“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." - Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Charles Dickens wrote this 161 years ago, but it could easily have been plucked from today’s headlines. We are experiencing not only a global pandemic, but massive civil unrest; not long ago, it seemed a whole continent was on fire; we are seeing melting polar icecaps, murder hornets, plagues of locusts, etc. We can almost hear the hoofbeats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse! It is like we are living in a B movie. At first glance, this seems like the stuff of nightmares, but this may be a horse of another color. You may know the story of the Taoist farmer whose horse is stolen. When his neighbor commiserates, the farmer says “Who knows what is bad or what is good?” When the horse escapes and comes back accompanied by a small herd of feral horses, the neighbor exclaims about the farmer’s good fortune, and again the farmer says “Who knows what is bad or what is good?”. When his son rides one of the horses, falls off and breaks his leg, again, the neighbor says “Oh no – how sad!”. Then the army comes by seeking to conscript the able-bodied young men in the village and pass his son by because his leg is broken, again “Who knows what is bad or what is good?” The story continues in this manner. How might this story apply to what we are experiencing now? We are obviously going through nothing less than a global shift in consciousness where up is down, in is out, vertical is horizontal, etc. Appalling headlines greet us each morning and it seems like surely, surely we are in our own episode of Twilight Zone! Beyond the deaths, millions of people are out of work, factories have been shut down, not long traffic everywhere was at a standstill. But look! With everything at a standstill, the sky is clearing! We can breathe the air! How else could we ever see such a clear demonstration of what is possible? As we, in our lives, are forced to come to a standstill, we find our own sky is beginning to clear. After months of NOT mindlessly following our same old routine, after months of contemplating what we value most, we find we are standing in front of a blank canvas. Coronavirus is the ultimate pattern interrupt, defined by Huffington Post as: “a technique to change a particular thought, behavior or situation. Behavioral psychology and neuro-linguistic programming use this technique to interrupt and change thought patterns and behaviors.” Now we are forced to reexamine our lives, review our choices – our occupation, where we live, how we spend our time, not only what we value most, but perhaps what we miss most and what we are surprised we DON’T miss. More and more we are standing up to injustice, both historical and current. I don’t mean to make light of how some people are suffering, but there is in the midst of the suffering, some good. Many are spending more time in nature, more time with our families, more time to rest. I am curious what others in the greater IFMA family are experiencing…

-Submitting on July 21, 2020