When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
With the waning light and winter fast approaching, the world is slowly being covered with the ominous blanket of COVID-19. Suffocating in its insistence to stick around, it refuses to be pushed off. It is a blanket of fear, disease, and death. How do we survive the forever night of COVID -19?
Lessons from the Far North
Scientists have studied the far north for years because in spite of dark cold winters, Norwegians have low seasonal depression. Scientists say it’s mostly because of their cheerful mindset towards winter. Norwegians even have a word for this time called koselig, meaning cozy.
They light candles, sit beside cracklings fires, and spend time with their tight knit community. They enjoy the beauty of the never ending sunset because the sun never goes beyond the horizon line. The winter solstice is beautiful with its sparkling white snow and the ever changing lights in the night sky.
We can adopt this Norwegian attitude of koselig even in our quarantine by finding our own tribe, reaching out to others with love, and seeing this as a time of burrowing down to our innermost core, finding the truth of who we want to be and how we want to live. In an eerie way, COVID is stripping us down to the essence of who we really are without the fake blanket of our typical diversions.
In his book, Mans Search for Meaning, Victor E. Frankl, noted Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist, author, humanitarian and survivor of the gruesome death camp of Auschwitz, observed that those who survived had a sense of purpose, loved deeply, and found courage in the face of genuine evil.
With the lack of distraction, dire conditions, and the perpetual midnight of Auschwitz, some inmates inner life intensified, bringing about the beautiful transcendental truth about love. He says,
Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, the inner self.
The lesson of midnight is using a different lens as the Norwegians do to see things at a different angle to still find love and beauty at this time.
Viktor Frankl reminds us,
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.