John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” His life’s story proves he was right. But today, the lives of most of us prove he was right. In fact, it seems as though nature has made it a point to disrupt the life of all of humanity.
Covid-19 has shut down our economy, culture, education, entertainment, nearly collapsed the healthcare system, intensified political and racial tensions, increased aggression and violence, disrupted food production and supply chains, and shattered families to pieces. Even when it eased and we could resume activity, it eased only slightly and returned with a vengeance every time we tried to return to the familiar normalcy of the pre-Covid era. What began as a kind of super infectious bad flu that affects mainly the elderly and those with poor immune systems has morphed into a menace that threatens everyone, at every age, and is simply too contagious to restrain and too dangerous to ignore.
Now, even if we want to return to normalcy, it will be a very pale, anemic, and quite pathetic normal compared to the fast-track life we’d had until the beginning of the current decade. It seems as though nature is punishing us and insists on denying us life’s pleasures.
But it only seems that way. When a parent scolds a child for not doing homework, the parent doesn’t want to punish the child, but to help! Every parent knows, and many of us remember from our own childhood, that unless we are pushed, we don’t want to work hard. And since homework is hard and undesirable work, children hate it and will not do it without parental pressure. To the parents, this is education; to the children, this feels like a punishment. But if children could see the benefits they will reap by their efforts, they would do their homework much more willingly.
This is what nature has been doing to us since the turn of the decade. It has been urging us to study, and we are whining about its punishments. It is not punishing us; it is steering us in the right direction.
Through its pressure nature is telling us the basic facts of life: Everything thrives only when it is synchronized with its environment. This applies to every level of reality, from waves through the entire material world, to the non-material levels of thoughts, feelings, and spirit. Synchrony means that everything operates as part of a system. The system provides absolutely everything that each unit within it needs. On the animate level this pertains to food, shelter, and reproduction. On the human level, this means much more. The system we are in provides us with our physical, animal-level needs, but also with our human needs, such as education, entertainment, and culture.
If we look closely, we will see that these human-level needs are exactly what Covid has been disrupting for the past year. These needs are exactly where we had been conducting ourselves erroneously, and nature has stopped it and allowed us to see what we did wrong so we can reroute to where we can find lasting, sustainable, and more profound satisfaction.
Indeed, we have been steering in the wrong direction: inwards. It’s as though we’ve been looking into our own bodies and wondered why everything seemed so dark. Every plan we’d made was intended to please only ourselves and (at best) those closest to us. We ignored the system, planned our lives as though it didn’t exist, or (worse) existed only in order to serve us, when in fact the system is our parent; we are in it, it nourishes us, and we are dependent on it for everything. If we spoil it, we invariably damage ourselves. It is therefore no wonder that life, namely the system, happens while we make other plans, for ourselves. How can it be otherwise, if we are making plans for our own selfish happiness while life is planning to make everyone happy?
If we want to plan a good future for ourselves, we must first recognize “life,” meaning the integral and interconnected system we are in. If we learn how to connect positively with our environment, particularly our social environment, rather than negatively—in order to exploit it for personal benefit—the environment will benefit us. The environment can benefit us more than we can benefit ourselves. All we need to do is think of the benefit of the system, and the system will work in our favor.
This is what nature is trying to teach us. Life has a plan for us, a clear direction. If we plan along with life, then life will not be what happens while we make other plans, which, in the end, only hurt us.