So how is your pandemic going? i thought it might be helpful for a bit of healthy perspective.

Meet my friend Uel Maree [some of you may know him from this piece i ran a long while ago [which exploded on here – go and check it out!]

Uel is consistently one of the most upbeat, hope-filled, compassionate people i know and every interaction with him somehow leaves me feeling better about myself and the world. Which is why when i checked in with him it was quite funny to me that his response was something along the lines of, ‘The pandemic is just another day for me. Nothing much different.’ Because Uel lives in a state of fairly consistent isolation… but let me let him tell his story because he does that so much better. He agreed to share some thoughts and perspectives of the pandemic and lockdown from his fairly unique perspective…

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So….. Coronavirus….. well it sucks and not at all how I saw my 2020 going. You?

But isn’t that how it goes? We make all these plans and then, life happens. I know all about that though; in early December 2011 I was planning my holiday and New Year’s Eve but on December 15th I was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident. Now 8 years later and 35 years old, I’m still paralyzed (for now) though I can move my arms a bit. How’s that for life not going as planned?

Without a doubt this pandemic is a tragedy. Firstly, the loss of life is never great. Then there’s job loss and the loss of income. These are just 3 things off the top of my head but I’m sure that in the coming weeks/months we’ll see even more damage. My heart breaks for all this and know that I’m praying for you all.

Many people have been self-isolating for awhile to do their bit in stopping the spread of the virus. But as of Friday, our president declared a nationwide shutdown. Now a lot more people will have to stay home (well, for us fortunate enough to have a home). Then there’s many that can’t stay home (police, medical staff, food sellers, etc) who are all such a blessing to us.

But for us few that have the option of staying home + companies having systems in place to have us work from home + STILL earn income from home…. what a privilege! Though I have seen many in this position upset now because they can’t go to the beach or eat out or go for their daily walk or or or.  Before my accident I literally worked in a forest and spent my free time on the beach. So I get it. It’s ok to be sad that your life will be different for a bit but keep it all in perspective. I haven’t been on a beach in years. I haven’t been to a restaurant in years. I haven’t walked in years….. and you know what? It’s not the end of the world.

This self-isolation that so many are hating and dreading is just another day for me. Self-isolation has been my life for the last 8 years. I go weeks at a time without seeing any other people except my parents (who look after me). I do have wonderful friends that pop in and an amazing church family that visit too, but life happens and at times there’s big stretches between visits. I’m telling you this not for your pity but quite the opposite…. this solitude has been some of the best times of my life.

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind. Though I’m often alone, I’m never lonely. I have a relationship with God which I’d be lost without but I also get to spend my days with another person…. me! At first, I kept myself busy so I wouldn’t have to spend time with me but the longer I was alone, the more time me and I would spend together. And you know what…. it was one of the best things I could’ve done. Being paralyzed isn’t great at all (and I continue to hope for my healing) but a silver-lining (and there’s been many) has been getting to know me.

Opening the soul’s curtains, dusting it’s floors, and throwing away its junk has been so liberating. But why do so few do it and why is the thought of it terrifying to so many? I was forced into it and now many more of you will be too. I get it, there’s things down there you don’t want to deal with but please do because they’re poisoning you.

Don’t look for loopholes to get out of self-isolation (putting others in danger). Take a break from this fast-paced life and stop looking for the next “hit” to satisfy your flesh. Look at this as an opportunity to do life differently. There’s treasures to be found within. This isolation can be a blessing if you allow it to be.

– Uel

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A little sobering hey? Along with Uel we think about the many homeless people at this time and of those who are immuno-compromised because of HIV+ or TB or being on the older side of the spectrum. We have to think of those in the townships where access to clean water is not a given and the idea of self-isolating is just impossible in so many cases where large numbers live in small spaces. The pandemic may not see class or race but the consequences and effects of it really seem to.

My hope is that you [we] will take Uel up on his challenge though – to hang out with yourself and really get to know you. Might be some polishing that needs to be done and there might be some people you need to seek out to make things right with. As a side note, if you wanted to drop Uel a message to let him know how his story impacted you please do to – i imagine he will be okay with that.

Perspective can be such a gift, and in the midst of a pandemic where a lot seems bleak and invites fear, it can be a good partner to have. Please share Uel’s story with your family and friends and others who might need to hear a different view.

Enjoy getting to know you.

[For the story after the first time i went to visit Uel, click here]