Adapting is What We Do

This weekend as I ran various errands, it occurred to me how normal it feels to wear a mask and stand six feet away from everyone. If someone closes the distance between us, I take a step back, almost automatically. I’m reminded how we human beings can become accustomed to almost anything. That’s not always to our benefit of course – there are some things that are harmful and it behooves us not to become accustomed to them, but nonetheless, adaptability and resilience are our strengths.

We see this in nature as well, which I find inspiring. Most of you probably already know this because murder hornets first hit the U.S. news cycle in May, but if a murder hornet scout enters a hive of Japanese honey bees, they will swarm the scout and begin vibrating their wings. The vibrating ball of bees generates enough heat and buildup of carbon dioxide inside the ball that it cooks and suffocates the hornet, according to a study. I know that’s kind of gross, and why am I even mentioning it? Because nature adapts, it fights against threats. And so do humans.

We adapt and fight against threats by changing our behaviors – like wearing masks around each other – but also this is what our bodies are made to do. Immune systems, for the most part, fight off pathogens. I know not everyone has a body that works that way, which is what it means to be immunocompromised, but generally speaking, our bodies respond to threats like viruses and bacteria and mount a defensive response.

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Not *quite* a murder hornet, but it’s a hornet. Photo by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash

I notice in myself one part of me is terrified of getting COVID-19 because I assume it will be terrible and maybe I’ll kill someone because I’ve spread it to them, and then another part reminds me that may not happen. It could, that’s why I’m being cautious, but the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 recover. WebMD says the recovery rate is anywhere between 97% and 99.5%. Our bodies for the most part know how to fight this virus. Not without consequences of course because some people have lung damage or brain damage as a result of the virus, according to the BBC. But still, mostly we’ve got this.

Do I think we should throw caution to the wind and return to the way things were pre-pandemic? No, because even if the death rate is 1%, when you take into account the size of the population, that can still be a lot of deaths. The United States is a perfect example of that. My spiritual teacher says, “Those who are reluctant to adapt themselves to the changed circumstances are doomed to destruction.” Yep. Pretty much. We can’t pretend our circumstances have remained the same, and at the same time, we must also recognize that we can, have, and will adapt.

My spiritual teacher also says, “You should always remember that you are in a world of passing shows, moving panorama. No picture, no position, no stance shall remain as they are just at present. That is, everything will change, everything is to undergo changes, and you should be ready to adapt yourself, to adjust yourself with those changed phases.”

My experience from this weekend shows me that we as a society, for the most part, are ready to adapt to changed phases. We adjust our actions and reactions because we as a species seek to survive. If we don’t adapt, we die, like the European honey bees who have no defense against murder hornets. I, for one, am willing to change and I hope you are too.

I dream of a world where we understand we have to adapt to circumstances in order to survive. A world where we realize nothing stays the same and we must constantly adjust accordingly. A world where we trust in our nature to fight against threats and realize adapting is what we do.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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