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This Too Shall Pass

Image of road going through a tree tunnel with a light at the end of it.

You were riding high, and then this unexpected thing had to happen. It seems like the isolation and negativity will never end. Whether you’re still riding high on life today, or you are now in the pit of the COVID-19 valley, know that this too shall pass.

According to Wikipedia, the origin of the phrase, “This too shall pass,” was noted in a speech by none other than Abraham Lincoln prior to him becoming the sixteenth president of the United States. In that speech, Lincoln referred to early origins of the phrase, in which he stated:

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

I like how Lincoln refers to the two ways this phrase can be applied. One of which is: “Don’t take the good times for granted, as the good times too shall pass.” Things don’t last forever without some glitches along the way. Who could have imagined the dramatic nature of this downturn in our world and the disruptions it has produced? You were having fun with friends, looking forward to graduation. Now school is held online, and the graduation ceremonies have been cancelled. You were starting that new job with a raise and a new title. Now you are filing for unemployment. You enjoyed your regular visits with your mother in the nursing home. Now they won’t let you inside the building, and your visits consist of waving through closed windows that separate you, if you are allowed a visit at all.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have never experienced change so dramatically, so quickly, and in such a challenging way as we have in the past few months. That said, many of us have experienced the dramatic change of life seemingly rolling along nicely, only to have some negative shock come out of nowhere. Maybe a bad diagnosis or loss of a loved one occurred. In those moments of loss, you may have felt alone and wondered, “How can the world just keep carrying on like nothing happened when my world had been turned upside down?” We can remember “this too shall pass,” for comfort in those times as well. Stay patient and hold on; there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If there is anything redeeming about this coronavirus crisis, it is that WE (your family, friends, strangers, town, state, country, and world) are truly all in this together. I mentioned in a Facebook post a few weeks back that one thing I’ve noticed during this crisis is how people are widely recognizing and expressing thankfulness for others in many facets of their daily lives much more than before. This is especially true in areas they may have previously taken for granted. Appreciating the work of healthcare workers is an obvious and significant one, but others included in this newfound recognition are “frontline” workers like truckers, cleaning staff, grocery store stockers and checkout clerks.

It’s sad that it has taken us getting to the point of a global shutdown to realize the value of the contributions of these workers. With that being said, I am glad that these people are finally being recognized. With that recognition also comes the realization of the inherent value and worth of each individual in our society. When I was a child, my mother often worked two jobs to support our family. I remember seeing her behind the deli counter at the local tourist area grocery store, periodically being talked down to by arrogant and unenlightened customers who treated her like an “it” rather than a fellow human being. Moments like that stuck with me and on many days still help to shape me, making me a more empathetic person.

If more empathy comes out of this, if more compassion comes out of this, if a stronger sense of our shared humanity comes out of this experience, those will all be very good things.

While you may be down and out during this time, just remember that this too shall pass. If we give it time and patience, we may all just turn out to be better humans for it.

The song in support of this blog’s message is We’re All in This Together, by Ben Lee. While social distancing may be lacking in the video (lol), it does refer to a few past challenges we have faced as a society and our shared experiences of pain and triumph.

I wish all the best to you and your loved ones during this trying time.