Love in the Time of Cholera, the International Bestseller and modern literary classic by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez draws us into a 50-year-old romantic love story during the time of a cholera epidemic. Although never once mentioned, it appears to have taken place somewhere between Cartagena and Bogota during 1880-1930. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated. The story is filled with everything anyone would want in a novel. It delights the reader with every human emotion ranging from sorrow to joy, humor to seriousness, absurdity to reality and much more than one can imagine.
Love in Times of Crisis
The only thing closely related to my blog is the title, Love in the Time of COVID-19. The love story I am about to share with you is about the healing power of love, especially in the time of crisis. What do I mean about love in the time of Coronavirus? What can love provide during such a crisis that elicits fears, anxieties, sleepless nights and panic? How can love substitute for a cure? How can love be a panacea for the lack of a vaccine, medicine, testing kits, overwhelm and death?
Unlike Garcia’s book, the kind of love I am speaking about is what Scott Peck defined in his book, The Road Less Traveled. He writes,
“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
How does this apply to us during perhaps the worst disaster in our lives?
The Last Age of Innocence
I grew up in Miami Beach in the fifties, the last age of innocence. Looking back through a rear-view mirror I can only recall the practice of apartheid that we never understood as such. We thought it was the way things were to have signs on the buses that said, “Colored to the rear.” We never took notice to the colored and white bathrooms and water fountains. We grew up not knowing anything else, believing that was the way it was. As teenagers we had not yet developed a social conscious. The best film in the academy awards, “Gone with the Wind” produced in 1939, would never be considered politically correct today. Time changes everything. Nothing is forever and nothing stays the same.
My time from the bubble I grew up in morphed into a new world. In the 50’s every Friday night we skated innocently in Flamingo Park where it was pitch dark except for the lighted skating rink. We walked through the dark park on our way home, never to have experienced a rape, a mugging or a shooting. No one ever committed suicide that we knew about. No one was ever a victim of murder. Our youth was filled with magic and secure attachments to our hard-working parents who imposed their values and morals upon us. We lived without fear in our safe communities. We never had to lock our doors or cars. We went to sleep in safety and woke up with a sense of wonder and curiosity. As Elvis shook his hips on The Ed Sullivan Show, we sat in front of our TV sets screaming our heads off, mesmerized as he propelled us into the sexual revolution.
When did it all change?
As the years passed, we witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Until today, the mystery of President Kennedy’s death still haunts us. We were challenged with the endless war in Vietnam, the HIV and AIDS viruses, race riots, the birth of the world wide web, the shattering of our hearts as we watched in awe as the World Towers fell to ground zero, the recession and now, perhaps the most tragic of our times, the Coronavirus and the dismantling of life as we had known it. Each crisis may have been lessons for our souls to learn. Did we learn anything? Al Gore’s book and movie pleading for a cry for change in our environment was produced in 2006. In 1976, at age 28, after joining the United States House of Representatives, he held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming. Has anything really changed?
What does love have to do with it?
My title has nothing to do with the words Tina Turner belted out in her song for the price we have to pay for love. In the context I am referring to, love has everything to do with it. It has to do with love for our planet, for humankind, for our communities and for every living creature that shares our world.
Ask yourself… have you succeeded in this effort? Have you given time to be the best you can be? Have you been so caught up in your work that you have neglected your family? Do you sleep holding your computer rather than your wife, husband or lover? Have you self-indulged to the point that you have lost empathy for those less fortunate? Do you spend more time watching sports, the stock market, reality shows than spending time and connecting with your family? What happened to 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of leisure time?
We need balance, personally and globally
This is what our universe is trying to tell us. But unless we heed its warning, we will be confronted by the wrath of our universe for ignoring its pleas. It is now, after years of trying to get our attention for change, rebelling to our selfish, self-absorbed behaviors. Now is the time to self-examination and recognize what’s really important and what really matters in this one and only life. I ask myself the same questions I am asking you. Spiritual growth is just as important has financial growth. What have we given more time to?
Remember the term love thy neighbor? It refers to the Biblical phrase “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” from the Book of Leviticus and the New Testament about the ethic of reciprocity known as the Golden Rule, something we learned in kindergarten but have forgotten as the years went by. Perhaps we should consider simplicity instead of acquisitiveness. Perhaps there is value in humility instead of pretentiousness.
Make everyday matter
This is the time people. The next crisis might be too late. Take this time of self-quarantine to reflect, to meditate, to pray and re-evaluate your lives. Make everyday matter. Make everyday count. Life is too short to let it just slip away. Live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be.
Let love in the time of the Coronavirus be abundant
Let it have no boundaries, no limits and no expectations. I don’t know what will happen, but I am convinced after 42 years of being a psychotherapist and having lived 80 years on the planet that none of us are getting off alive. The good news is that while we are a member of planet Earth, let’s give her our gratitude. Let’s count the blessings she has given us and be respectful of her worth. It’s time for change. Are you ready? Are you willing? So…not unlike NIKE, just do it!
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I HATE THE MAN I LOVE: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success, to be released October 11, 2020. Visit Joan’s website for more resources on managing stress and anxiety or to schedule therapy via phone and online.