• Colin Huntley

I do not know how you have been dealing with the COVID-19 situation. As for me, my mood has been ebbing and flowing, and it's probably safe to assume you have been experiencing similar ups and downs.

For the most part, I have felt positive. Things will work out. We'll be okay. And then, like clockwork, once I have fully come to peace with the situation, there is a new article with a new reason as to why I should scared. I've been wondering why this situation has been so unstable for my psyche. It occurred to me why this morning; Basically every problem I've ever had has been a personal problem, and COVID-19 is far from a personal problem.

The kind of problems I've faced are not trivial, not unimportant, but they have been different. For the most part, they have been problems solvable through perseverance, determination, and grit - personal responsibility. Whether relational, financial, physical, or mental, all of my problems have been the responsibility of me to fix, and me alone - personal problems. As I reflected on what makes me afraid about COVID-19, I narrowed it down to a couple of things.

The first fear is watching the news and hearing about how many of my neighbors are dying or suffering. I'm terrified of the images I may see on the news of people in hospital beds, or graphic verbal accounts of horrific hospital stories, knowing all of that is happening in my back yard.

The second thing I'm terrified of is the economic fallout of this country in the wake of COVID-19. I imagine riots in the street, politicians maliciously capitalizing on the chaos, and a deep dark economic depression that will characterize the better part of my 20's and 30's.

If they only saw things like I do, we would all be handling this better and things would be okay.

I've been scheming ways to contract the perfect word cocktail to inspire everybody to work together and take care of one another. Maybe, I thought, if I could just figure out how to explain the way I feel in just the right way, it will go viral and everyone will agree. Maybe my blog will land on the desktops of world leaders and inspire them to do things the way I think they need to be done. Maybe everyone will read what I have to say, and because of it, they'll stop panic buying, and fear mongering, and then none of these things I'm afraid of will materialize.

In times like this, where the actions and mood of the masses are the only factors that separate you from your fears, it's hard not to want to change and fix people to see things the way you do. There is only one way to find some peace: Fully accept people as they are. I can't change people. They are as they are and will do what they do like air is invisible, and the sun is hot.

The irony is being at peace with your cause, without the need to prove it worthy is the best way to be influential. Wanting to change how everyone is reacting, or mitigate their responses and behavior comes from a place of fear and uncertainty. Acceptance of people as they often are - cheaters, liars, thieves, and schemers, comes from a place of certainty and peace. Funny enough, as people pick up on this sort of spirit in you, they begin to think you're on to something, and listen to what you have to say. This kind of spirit is what leaders are made of.

Most of us want to fix things. We all have a well intended, but naive idea that we may have the one unique perspective that will set the world in order again. We don't. We can only lead by example. The best way to tackle this situation, which is oh so much bigger than any single one of us is to accept reality for what it is. It's a big problem, much bigger, and more out of our control than the personal problems we are accustomed to facing. If we can accept that, we can work towards peace. Otherwise, we'll spend our lives trying to treat the world's problem like a personal problem, and forever come up short trying to fix it.

There is no function of humanity more powerful than speech, the ability to think and articulate clearly and powerfully. Throughout history, when tragedy and injustice struck, we have seen the words of articulate men and women inspire the best in people in ways that mere rationality and science could not. Science is powerful, but speech is power itself.

A hopeful human being is unstoppable beyond measure. A hopeful human being is incomparably creative and innovative. He/She is able and competent in the most dire and complicated of situations. An inspired and hopeful individual holds a transcendent power to rise above. Nothing inspires these qualities in the masses like powerful speech and written word.

In an effort to inspire, I have comprised a list of some of the most powerful quotes of history that were the impetus for change, perseverance, and overcoming, as well as some personal favorites. I believe these mantras maintain universal and timeless truths that we can rely upon today, tomorrow, and forever.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"If life were predictable, it would cease to be life, and without flavor." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light." - Aristotle

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom." - Marilyn Ferguson

"We suffer more in imagination than in reality" - Seneca

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present" - Marcus Aurelius

"Fear is a friend who's misunderstood" - John Mayer

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." - Mark Twain

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda

"Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside of our control, the less control we have." - Epictetus

"Failure and deprivation are the best educators and purifiers." - Albert Einstein

A common theme amongst all of these quotes from some of the greatest thinkers and leaders of history is this: Mankind is made to conquer hardship. This Coronavirus might be novel, but what isn't novel is the temptation to resort to anger, bitterness, and resentment as a byproduct of fear, and the treasure awaiting those who resist this temptation. Fear is meant to be mastered.

When every man, woman, and child on Earth is under threat by a common enemy, we have an unprecedented opportunity to work together, to be on the same team for once, all of us. May this virus be the impetus for brother and sisterhood globally. May it renew our faith in one another. May we remember just how much we have overcome as a human race, and resort not to fear, but to courage. May we dance with fear so to show it how little power it has over us.

I believe in us. We've overcome bigger things.

  • Colin Huntley

I bet I can tell you what the topic of most of your conversations have been over the last 10 days. In fact, I'm so confident I know the answer that I won't even tell you what I think it is. You already know what I think it is.

We are all well aware of the elephant in the room here in 2020. It's frightening, impossible to get away from, and has stripped us of most of the normalcy we all so recently had in our lives. Normalcy being taken from you is already hard enough, yet even harder when you're waiting every day to pick up new clues as to when you can have it back. It's kind of like normalcy purgatory. 2020 feels very much like a no-man's land. So how, in all of this can we be grateful? And why?

Like everyone else, my normal is gone. I woke up at 5:30 this morning to go to the grocery store to have a chance at getting some ground turkey. I've been trying to buy some for the last the week. They didn't have it on the shelf, but a kind Kroger employee got some for me from the back. My gym finally closed down yesterday, which is probably the thing I've been most frustrated by losing. So after getting home from grocery shopping, I begrudgingly did a home workout. After the workout, I switched the music from 90's hip hop to a Spotify meditation playlist. I brewed a pot of coffee, sat down, closed my eyes, and suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling: gratitude.

Why am I grateful right now? I had to wake up early just to buy groceries, I couldn't work out at my gym, and all of my favorite coffee shops are closed!

I sat perplexed. Then it occurred to me; I have everything I need. I have my groceries, I have my coffee, and I have my living room gym. It doesn't look the way I'm used to it looking, but I haven't really lost anything. It turns out sitting still for a few minutes with a clear mind in the morning after a week like the one we all just had will make that clear to you.

We all realized whether consciously or not last week that everything we know (at least in the form that we know it) can be taken from us essentially overnight. This morning when I realized that what I have in my home is everything that I need, I also realized that it can all be stripped from me. That realization creates either fear or gratitude. Thankfully, I jumped on gratitude this morning. I imagine I will have to make a habit of that over the coming week/months (and quite frankly years).

Viktor Frankl talks about what got him through the terror of being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp in his book Man's Search For Meaning. In short, he concludes that having a clear picture of beauty, a vision for what could and will be on the other end of suffering is what sustains one through said suffering. I believe this applies to our situation today as much as ever.

So meditate on the abs you will have from all of the home workout time you have for in the coming weeks. Think of the lifelong bonds and stories you'll create with your children, parents and siblings. Dream of the perspective and renewed mental energy you will have from all the books you have time to read now, and the songs, poems, and inventions that will emerge from others during this time that will inspire you to new heights of beauty and appreciation of life and love!

There is a beautiful unknown that would never have the chance to materialize if it wasn't for this moment in what will soon be history. Meditate on it. Watch how it sustains you. Gratitude is all around. Remember, even what you have now can be gone tomorrow. Enjoy it for every last droplet of what it is.

- CH