Hamlet: To be (panicked), or not to be (panicked): that is the question.
Upon first realizing we were in a pandemic, like Hamlet, I tried to feign madness, but Most Beautiful One (not Trude’s real name) was having nothing to do with it! She reminded me that Winston Churchill said, “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.” So, each morning and evening after checking the news, I make a new determination not to panic. I also go to my YouTube feed and watch NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. There are hundreds of short, intimate performances by a wide variety of talented musicians … some famous, others on the rise, all entertaining.
Hamlet: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune …
I figure I have no choice but to suffer some of the effects of this global pandemic, especially since we are all connected to each other and the Earth. What hurts one, hurts us all (no matter what some people think). At the same time, I get to choose how I react to the fear and illness.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “If you can live through that (a difficult situation), you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
While bunkered down in our home, I try to avoid insulating myself from family, friends and our island community. For instance, we’ve been using Zoom to read to our grandkids and have lively Buddhist discussion meetings. And, I am using writing and music to spread hope to myself and others. “Hope,” to quote Václav Havel, “is in our mind, not the state of the world.”
Hamlet: The proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes …
Apparently, Mister Shakespeare could predict the future. Yes, William, we still have excessive palace intrigue, egotistic and vengeful leaders, corporate greed and a host of other human failings. But we also have the compassion and, I believe, the wisdom and courage necessary to meet this challenge and to save our planet.
If all else fails, I can go to this resource from Billboard for live streams and virtual concerts to watch during the coronavirus crisis as well as a State-by-State resource guide for music professionals who need help. I do so because, to quote Daisaku Ikeda, “Music speaks directly to the heart. This response, this echo within the heart, is proof that human hearts can transcend the barriers of time and space and nationality.”
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.