Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 12th April 2020 9:52

Three weeks into this UK lockdown, the prospect of spending the day mostly at home and only being physically close to my immediate family, feels absolutely normal. I think it is a measure of how much things have changed. And we still have a lot of changing to do!

The world is in a state of transition. Transition being defined as “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”. In my counselling training, it was explained to me as “a period of uncertainty between two periods of certainty”. I think that both definitions fit the bill rather nicely.

The Thesaurus provides some synonyms for transition: conversion, development, evolution, growth, passage, progress, progression, shift, transformation, upheaval, alteration, flux, metamorphosis, metastasis, passing, transmutation, realignment, turning point, amongst others. All of these seem to me to describe some aspect (if not all aspects) of the current situation. And most of those synonyms seem to have a positive vibe about them.

I have always viewed change as an essential part of growth and evolution, even though I was very reluctant to change myself during my addiction years. But this was because I didn’t want to take responsibility, or was too afraid to, or didn’t know how to. I was caught in my comfort zone. I call this zone “uncomfortably comfortable”. I was in Hell but I had an arrangement with the Devil. David Bowie captured this feeling in Changes:

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

In order to change, I had to step out of my comfort zone. One of those classic recovery mottos is “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. But I needed a catalyst for this. It wasn’t coming from looking ahead as that was filled with uncertainty, I had to look back. My counsellor said to me: “look at your rock bottom and use that as a platform to grow from”. Those were wise words, I built the foundations of my recovery on the nurturing soil of my rock bottom.

I like to think that the COVID-19 crisis could be one of humanity’s rock bottoms. I mean, it’s pretty horrific: thousands upon thousands of deaths and millions of ill people, economic collapse, job losses, health systems overwhelmed, poverty, trauma on a global scale… If that is not a rock bottom then I don’t know what is.

And the most important thing to realise here is that this is a situation of our own making. In the same way that the rock bottoms of my addiction where my creation, this situation is partly fed by our own global addiction to stuff, to the latest gadget, to cheap clothing, to air and road travel, to constant holidays, to eating food out of season, to plastic from China and electronics from Taiwan and a long list of etceteras. We want it all, we want it large and we want it now, just like addicts.

The first step out of addiction is admitting that we have a problem. This might be difficult for the likes of Donald Trump but I sense a seismic shift in people’s views on this. Over the past three weeks I have spoken to people who I would normally place on the climate change and inequality denial side of the spectrum, and I can really see a change in their perceptions of the world. I think there is no stopping that now.

After admitting that we have a problem, we have to take responsibility for it. This doesn’t mean we have to punish ourselves for our past mistakes but to learn from them, to change and evolve as a result of them. We need to accept ourselves. Carl Rogers once said, “the paradox is that if I accept myself just as I am, then I can change”.

Only when we take responsibility for our own choices will we be truly free. Not free to do whatever we want, but free to be responsible for our life and our choices, which is the ultimate freedom.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does”. Jean-Paul Sartre

Happy Easter everyone!

World-wide confirmed cases: 1,783,941

World-wide deaths: 109,312

World-wide recovered: 405,972

UK confirmed cases: 79,885

UK deaths: 9,892

UK recovered: 625


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