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Dear COVID: (Reply From Humanity — 1)

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash


Thanks for your initial reply.

You ask how effective my control efforts have been? And what stories and shadows I have uncovered?

Well, your latest variant (omicron) is surely casting doubt on any hope of eradicating you, permanently. The attempt to control my own behavior has also produced a sort of resistance and stagnation; I have an inner conflict around whether to use more control (e.g., vaccine mandates) or less control to achieve the outcome I want — you, gone — and it seems like these two parts of myself are fighting each other. Given the duality of everything, I am wondering if there will always be an opposing force to fight against — be it me (humanity) versus you (the virus), or the archetypal ideas within myself.

The internal battle has been ratcheting up. The Left side of my mind wants more mandates and measures to control you. The Right side of my mind wants freedom of choice. The Left has magnified you into something more magnificent and malevolent than you really are, in all likelihood. The Right doesn’t seem to take you seriously enough — some don’t even believe you’re real. Because of the nature of duality, the more polarized my thoughts get in one realm, the more polarized they become in the other. I am starting to realize how this works.

Maybe it’s not about buying into the story of one side versus the other, per se, but becoming more aware of this whole drama — the duality of humanity — playing out. Is it about noticing that I am not that? Just like the individual conscious beings within me, perhaps the path to awakening involves dis-identifying with the stories I am telling myself, and realizing that I am simply the consciousness that contains all of these stories. I am not a Left, or Right, or Centrist thinker, or neither the sum or average of all of these experiences — no that would still be identification. I am a unified being comprised of many different, and constantly changing, experiences, also following a path of evolution.

Gosh, there are so many stories I have told myself. For a while now (around 500 years or so), I’ve been really into the story of Science. This is the story that dictates much of how I see the world — and therefore the ways I attempt to diagnose, and treat, you. I see you as a physical specimen that offers no wisdom. I see you as something to triumph over with all my brilliant technological creations; if only I can get you to go away, then I could go back to living a happy life.

I don’t see you through a poetic or metaphorical lens. Because of this, I lose out on possible “diagnoses” and “treatment plans.” Some would say your presence is a sort of “Dark Night of the Soul,” or some sort of “initiation” into a new form of consciousness. (I really chastise myself when I think that way — it doesn’t fit within the story of Science). I don’t personify you (until this letter, of course), or ask why you are here, and what you want? I don’t even really meditate on what I may have done to bring you about; I don’t take personal responsibility. Instead of figuring out why and how I got here, I scramble to find more measures to control you. And I do so using the same narrative — more science and technology will save us — this narrative, itself, being perhaps one reason you have arrived, and are trying to get me to look more closely at.

Not all of me buys into this narrative. But the part that doesn’t buy into it, I call stupid. I accuse it of having conspiracy theories. And, truthfully, a lot of my thoughts are pretty wack-a-doodle and probably have no merit. But I never stop to question why I am having these thoughts in the first place? The more I call myself stupid and try to squash them, the more these thoughts and ideas pop up! What is the purpose of these other stories that contradict the dominant dialogue? Hmm… The psyche thinks in poetic terms. Maybe these “crazy” stories are not true, in the “real,” materialistic sense, but are metaphors for how I am feeling? If I don’t acknowledge my feelings — if I suppress certain parts of myself — than those parts have to be acknowledged, somehow. Like the relationship between the unconscious and the dreamworld, these parts are making themselves known through wild and fantastical stories.

These are some of the shadows being exposed. I am starting to pay attention to the stories I have been suppressing — some ugly and unhelpful, and others beautiful and full of potential for a more harmonious existence. In order to get to this more harmonious place, I have to begin recognizing all of myself, all of my stories. I have to tell the truth and continue asking, which stories are serving me and lead to a better future? Which stories lead to more peace, less suffering, and a higher potential? I need to recognize my inner duality and the interconnectedness of everything within.





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Matthew S. Goodman, Ph.D.

Matthew S. Goodman, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at USC. Host of The Middle Way podcast. Writing on interconnectedness and compassion.