The Pandemic Has Given Each of Us Chance to Reset Our Lives

Social IssuesCulture

  • Author Nick Kossovan
  • Published June 17, 2022
  • Word count 824

I’m not a “plant person.”

I have a few houseplants in my condo, but they’re working plants that inhabit my domain to purify the air. Only the most hearty and tolerant plants (e.g., aloe, snake plant, succulents) have a long-term relationship with me.

My father loved plants. He had a deep understanding of their needs. Several times he tried to pass along to me what gave him enormous pleasure, but I just did not connect with it.

I did learn the obvious: plants must be watered, get enough sunlight and be re-potted once they’ve grown. I also learned plants need to be pruned, which seems counter-intuitive. It doesn’t strike me as logical to cut off a plant’s branches to make it grow bigger and stronger.

My father explained pruning involves cutting off certain branches so the plant can use its limited resources to make stronger branches.

For example, a healthy rose bush will produce too many buds. This leads to overgrowth and creates a drain on the plant’s resources. Left unchecked, most of the flowers will survive, but not thrive. Therefore, the gardener must make the difficult decision to prune the good buds to redirect the flow of nutrients to the best buds.

Just as a rose bush needs to be pruned, we too should occasionally prune our respective lives.

Envision your life as a fruit tree. Each branch is an interest, activity, relationship, an accumulation for your future. Each branch requires energy to bear fruit. Some branches may be dying, diseased, broken beyond repair, or tangled with other branches. Airflow and spaciousness between branches is essential.

Think about it. Habits. Relationships. Jobs. Commitments. Health. Goals.

If you pruned the bad and sometimes the good for the sake of the best, what would happen?

We all have a finite amount of time and energy. Considering who and where you are now, are you spending the right amount of your resources where needed? Or are you holding onto situations or relationships that are broken or frustrating?

Tough questions, I know. Everyone has dead branches taking up space.

When you have an overfull life or often feel overwhelmed, it’s usually a sign you have too many branches. Your energy is too diffuse to sustain everything. If you prune back non-essential things, you provide more energy to the remaining activity branches. As a result, overwhelm decreases and happiness grows.

Early into the pandemic, (actually government restrictions) pruned branches from my life, as I’m sure it did from yours. At the time I didn’t realize some of the branches being pruned were unhealthy.

For instance, I have this need to compare myself to others. As a result of lockdowns, social distancing, working from home, and staying within my “bubble,” there were fewer people around me to compare myself, thus envy and negative self-talk quickly dissipated.

Then there’s COVID-19’s most crucial lesson; it taught me more about getting unbusy than any seminars could. Things I thought I “had to do” turned out I was just convincing myself I enjoyed.

“Life pruning” can be painful, which is why we rarely or deliberately do it. For the most part we let life prune for us (e.g. death, divorce, job termination, nature destroying our home).

Only when someone or something is gone do we finally realize how much it meant to us, how much energy it was taking from us or how harmful it was to our well-being. Often, when we look back after “life’s pruning” we may realize we benefited by the loss.

There’s truism in the adage, “everything happens for a reason.” COVID-19 happened for a reason, if for none other than to slow us down and prune our lives.

The stoic philosopher Seneca said it best: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Over the past two years, COVID-19 has pruned many things from our lives. Relationships, mindless consumerism, pruning of jobs, re-evaluating career choice and perhaps losing loved ones to the virus.

Initially, you may only feel pruning pain. Sometimes it takes time before you perhaps see the branches cut off were unhealthy. When non-essential retailers and restaurants were ordered to close, I quickly realized how much money I was spending frivolously.

There were some friends I missed, but as time passed, I realized how much easier it was without them.

COVID-19 gave me the gift of “letting go.” It gave each of us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to start over.

Prior to the pandemic, I was a religious Saturday morning golfer. But I feel thankful for pruning golf from my life and instead giving me time to write — which I get more enjoyment from and find to be therapeutic.

As the pandemic (hopefully) winds down and we begin returning back to something resembling normality returns, you might want to ask yourself: “What do I want my ‘normal’ to look like?”

Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what's on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan

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