Many of us have lots of questions about what 2021 will bring. When will the pandemic end? Will I return to my job, or will I have to reinvent myself? Will the kids be able to get out of the house? Will I be allowed to go to a concert, travel, or visit my relatives? Can I hug people I love, or will everyone important to me be relegated to a little rectangular image on my computer screen?
What will happen during the coming year depends on who you think you are. A student told me, “I was in Manhattan at the time of the September 2001 attack. After that incident I called myself a ‘911 Victim.’ A few years later I got tired of defining myself as a victim, so I called myself a ‘911 Survivor.’ That eventually felt too heavy for me, so now I call myself a ‘911 Witness.’ Where do I go from here?”
“Now you’ve become a ‘911 Student,”’ I told her. “Then you will graduate to become a ‘911 Master.’”
When I told my partner Dee about the student’s progression up the ladder of identity. Dee suggested, “After she is done being a 911 Master, she will ask, ‘What’s 911?’” When you grow out of a limiting self-definition, you leave it behind like a snake sheds it skin and moves on to new territory.
Most people will remember 2020 as the year of Covid, spilling now into 2021. We may define ourselves as Covid victims, survivors, or witnesses. We could just as easily see ourselves as Covid students or masters, empowered by the spiritual lessons we have learned, passing them on to others for their benefit. We can also rise entirely beyond Covid and choose an identity that has nothing to do with it.
We can take a clue from people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, who display physical diseases in one personality, but no trace of the ailment in another personality. One personality could be severely allergic to citrus, or diabetic, or have cancer, and in another personality show no symptoms of the disease. Who is that person really? Whoever they identify with in a given moment.
As a spiritual being, you are immune to anything that happens in the world. You will emerge unscathed from the slings and arrows of physical life. You don’t have to wait until you become enlightened or die to rise into wholeness. You can choose to identify with that self now.
What if we chose to really put 2020 behind us by not giving it undue attention in 2021. Continue with protective measures as you feel guided, and decide if you want to get a vaccine. Do whatever you need to do to feel safe. At the same time, establish yourself in your innocent, disease-free identity. It is not arrogant to claim spiritual wholeness; it is more arrogant to claim brokenness as your nature. What if one of the great teachings of the entire Covid experience was to move you to remember who you really are and live from your empowered self?
I know of a fellow who was hospitalized for Covid, in intensive care. His prospects looked grim. Then one day he just started to feel better. Day by day he improved until he recovered completely. When a relative asked him how he made the turnaround, he replied, “I just got tired of being sick. I couldn’t imagine this is how my life would end. I got excited about being a well person again.”
Healing is an identity shift from the body to spirit, from limitation to freedom, from fear to love. What seemed to happen does not have to have anything to do with what is happening or what will happen. It takes courage to accept and express our divinity. Finding and living that courage could be the greatest gift we bring to 2021.