Rowena Roberts in conversation with
Jeevan is Rowena’s cousin on her mother’s side, and the youngest of their generation at the age of 27. He lives in Bellingham, Washington DC, USA, and started working as a nursing assistant in a hospice just as Covid-19 appeared on the scene.
During lockdown, I read a book by mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade called ‘Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul.’ Its premise is that every life has an intended destiny, implanted in your soul at its conception, which would enable you to contribute something unique to the world; something that suits your inner gifts and yearnings, and makes you feel fulfilled. Fate intervenes in our lives as seemingly random twists and turns that, in hindsight, offer us opportunities to follow the path to fulfil our destiny. Whether or not we take these opportunities is always our choice.
This is not how modern society encourages us to view the world.
Sure, we can happily discuss how the archetypal “hero’s journey” lends a perfect storytelling structure to George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, as we witness Luke Skywalker’s heroic rise, fall and then rise again in his battle against the dark side. But view ourselves as the heroes of our own stories, with unique destinies to find and fulfil? Why, that’s simply not how “real life” works.
In real life, we learn (or try to learn) what everyone else learns at school, find a job that family and friends approve of, slot into a ready-made system of economics and politics, corporations and culture, office hours and deadlines, responsibilities and coping mechanisms. There are things that we dislike and hope will change, and there are yearnings that we might get around to indulging one day, but in the meantime let’s keep doing what we’re doing, because everyone else is doing it and it’s what we do, because it’s just the way life is.
Then, the word “pandemic” explodes the model and patterns of our real life, and perspectives suddenly shift as fate steps in to change our collective story.
Unthinkable becomes reality. Impossible becomes possible. And, while we gasp and flounder and struggle to keep our heads above the tossing surface of the lives that we’ve been leading, a message finally gets through.
Normal was only normal not because it was just the way life is, but because we allowed it to be that way. And that way, for many of us, individually and collectively, did not have our best interests at heart.
Talking with Jeevan over these 26 weeks, renewing our relationship and discussing life in-depth, has been a valued experience, which has helped to cement my perspective on what I want to be normal for me now.
Value my family. Support, inspire and have fun with my kids. Do work that helps others while making me feel authentic, connected and whole. Focus not on figuring out the “right side” to be on in our polarised world, but on finding the right path for me. Don’t be a victim. Take responsibility. Have courage. Love myself. Treat others with compassion. Notice and appreciate life’s countless gifts.
Our “new normal” can be whatever we want it to be, and will be whatever we allow it to be. Let’s create it more consciously.