To be serious (really), I was hesitant at first to craft a coronavirus article about myself. Wouldn’t that be rather self-centered? Perhaps my reluctance was a lingering symptom of having been infected with a particularly pernicious thought-virus during a childhood filled with too much pain, neglect and disappointment. Eventually, this manifested as a deep-seated belief that I was not worthy of affection or respect. Regardless, I have done too much work and come too far to succumb to these self-defeating messages. So, here we go …
Those of you who have read my previous article “Most Beautiful One (MBO) and the Coronavirus” will recognize why I refer to myself as Most Lucky One. I won’t belabor that here except to say that I would not be alive or at peace with my past if wasn’t for my wife, MBO. But, that’s only part of the story.
About one year after MBO was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, our wonderful therapist, JB (not Jeanne’s real name), suggested I stay at the beach alone for three days to deal with some deep sadness. This sounded like a cool idea until JB instructed me not to read, watch tv, listen to music or talk to anyone — just to be with myself while listening to the waves.
Keeping in mind that my daughters referred to me at the time as Elevator Man because I greeted everyone around me on an elevator and somehow learned their entire life stories before the ride was over, you can imagine that being silent was beyond difficult for me. So this was an invitation for what felt like a bottomless pit of hurt and sadness to rise to the surface and to experience these feelings without the usual panic I spent most of life’s energy struggling to suppress. Little did I know that this would also prepare me to deal with the current viral pandemic 25 years later.
I barely survived the experiment (I came home after two days), and I have to admit that I never put myself through it again! However, learning how to be with my feelings became a lifetime practice from then on. I have chanted many hours about it. Written about it. Gotten tons of therapy about it. Taken medicine to help with it. Eventually, I learned to love that sad, younger me until I became this much happier, older fellow, even in the midst of today’s awful virus. And I can now sit quietly by myself anytime I want. This is one of the reasons I consider myself Most Lucky One.
Of course, being human, I sometimes worry about the negative effects of the blatant narcissistic behavior of our leaders and the ignorance of too many of my fellow citizens about the coronavirus. But, I no longer emotionally spiral down which is, of course, most lucky indeed!
Speaking about worrying, as is my habit when writing these articles, I search for quotes online that fit the week’s theme. When I Googled “Michael Lisagor Quotes,” this appeared on greatsayings.net: “I decided to stop worrying about what might happen, and concentrate on what was happening. What a magical moment of Buddhist insight!” (from the book “Romancing the Buddha” by me).
An integral part of my spiritual practice is centered on returning to this being in the present mindset time and again. My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, said, “Death inevitably comes to each of us. Whether it is a time of inner dignity and honor or a pitiful demise is completely reliant on how we live our lives right now, today. In that sense, the “moment of death” truly exists in the present.”
The natural response to the COVID-19 virus seems to be rather polarized. People are either excessively concerned about getting ill and possibly dying, or they go into denial, as if they can somehow get away with experiencing birth, old age and sickness, but not death. A healthier reaction is to accept the impermanence and fragility of life and take reasonable precautions for oneself and others, then live each day with as much kindness and creativity as possible.
Now that’s a thought-virus worth getting!
Thanks for reading and be safe out there.
Next week: Julie Andrews & the Coronavirus
Other titles by Mike during Covid-19:
Lily Tomlin & the Coronavirus
Herbie Hancock & the Coronavirus
Leo Tolstoy & the Coronavirus
Most Beautiful One & the Coronavirus
Grandma Moses & the Coronavirus
Leonardo da Vinci & the Coronavirus
Lean on Bill Withers and Defeat the Coronavirus
Gandhi, King, Ikeda & the Coronavirus
Tagore and the Coronavirus
Annie Leibovitz and the Coronavirus
Ansel Adams and the Coronavirus
Louise Penny and the Coronavirus
Harry Manx and the Coronavirus
Keb’ Mo’ and the Coronavirus
Davy Jones and the Coronavirus
Prince Hamlet and the Coronavirus
Helen Keller and the Coronavirus
Pema Chodron and the Coronavirus
ABOUT MIKE LISAGOR – Mike Lisagor plays harmonica and sings in Good Karma Blues. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and blogs on a variety of business and Buddhist related topics. He is the author of “Romancing the Buddha,” which he adapted into a successful one-man show that he performed at Bainbridge Performing Arts and in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. His nature photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Living Buddhism as well as in several local galleries. His latest graphic art project, “Reimagined Nature”, is in the lobby of New Motion Physical Therapy.