Living in Novel Time

Fresh, cool morning air floods through my open window. My lungs swell with unsullied oxygen as I blissfully inhale the crisp scent of life itself. Stilled freeways, ordinarily roaring this time of day, provide a noiseless backdrop. For a moment in the stillness, I just am.

Coinciding with my unreserved breathing, COVID 19 assails the respiratory systems of thousands. The fortunate get hooked up to a life support machine that blows oxygen into their lungs. If ventilating fails, people can drown in their own clogged fluids. In a heartbeat, they stop breathing.

The global pandemic and ensuing suspension of business as usual gives pause, an opportunity to stop and take a deep breath. This “industrios interruptus” clamors for us to reflect upon the stultifying effects of modern existence, where everything and everyone is a commodity, where a person’s value is determined by their productivity, and where the natural process of breathing, and the air itself, are casualties of our catastrophic consumptive appetites.

How have I also co-modified myself and others? What alterations of true self have been sacrificed at the altar of social conformity in the name of production? How shallow is my customary respiration? How much deeper could it be?

In the caesura, a flash in the pandemic sparks an opening to examine how we, how I, have been operating and to craft a vision for change. The Novel Coronavirus could be a catalyst for something new - a breath of fresh air.

— Kathy Trost, Ph.D.

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