Regarding Dancing with Coronavirus
Campbell’s Five Commandments

The following is the backstory. After forty years, a friend and former colleague of mine reconnected She lives out East and I live in the Midwest. Therefore, we talk over the phone every Saturday afternoon at 1:00pm my time. We have a lot in common. One item is that we both danced with death. While I have done two dances and she only one, her type of dance was that of going down the tunnel with a light at the end.

Last weekend, we went on and on about the coronavirus issue. The first thing that I asked was about how she deals with this pandemic personally. One would have thought that having danced with death that I would be more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic as it spreads throughout the Midwest. I told my friend that I wasn’t personally overly concerned or even moderately worried. I said that on a scale from 1-10 with ten being scared out of one’s mind, I was maybe 1. Her response was “Precisely.”

So, what is with two older people who have done the dance and aren’t particularly rattled personally by COVID-19? Our discussion about that took up much of our weekly chat. I mentioned Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. Watching that video after having done two dances awakened me to life and living it fully.

Our Saturday drifted around touching upon things that could explain our indifference to the coronavirus dance. I told my friend about Eric Idle’s song, Look on the Bright Side of Life, and she began singing a couple of lines.

I asked my friend about how my two college classes that I teach would accept Idle's and Monty Python’s humor. I wondered whether it seemed a bit too dated. She mentioned about the younger generation aren’t on the same page as we are. That comment caused me to recall and mention to my former colleague that the Chinese have a great reverence of their older population. Their reverence was due, in part, to their wisdom. That wisdom was based upon learning from their mistakes, not based upon IQ.

A wise old man from China

Then I mentioned that, in a very real way, COVID-19 is a newer type of dance with death. For the vast majority of Americans or people throughout the world, even if they catch the coronavirus, the death rate is low. We went on about how the dances in our lives changed our Weltanschauung. We can learn from all our dances, even a dance with coronavirus.

Dancing with death

I have mentioned that I wouldn’t want to deal with either of my dances again, but I would not delete either from my life. I learned a great deal about life by coming close to dying. Dancing with death enabled me to grasp more of what it means to be alive. Those two dances were once seen as curses but turned out as blessings. While that is true that if you address dances with death, you will come alive, if you truly become involved with life.

Therefore, after our weekly chat a couple of days ago, I sat back, put my feet on my desk near my Himalayan Salt Lamp and dozed off for twenty minutes. Again, maybe my salt lamp allows me to see life more clearly. I came up with Campbell’s Five Commandments (CFC) based upon Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

• CFC #1. “No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.” Pausch was trying to help us grasp that dancing with death is not pleasant. Nonetheless, the dancing awakens us to truly come alive. Complaining about dancing doesn’t help.

• CFC #2. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Essentially, that is a follow up to avoiding making things worse. We are masters of the universe. We can’t even control things like the coronavirus. What we can’t control is how we are dealt the cards, only how we play what is dealt to us.

• CFC #3. “One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.” We are all capable of developing plans for when the worst-case scenario occurs. Without some action plans, we will merely sit there and do nothing but complain about how life isn’t fair.

• CFC #4. “The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.” Delaying action is problematic. We assume that we know the future. If you are twenty-one, you will live a long time. Maybe, but maybe not. Act now by planning and then executing your plan. There will be a time when you won’t have time.

• CFC #5. “Follow your passions, believe in karma, and you won't have to chase your dreams, they will come to you.” Pausch addresses Bobby Kennedy’s quote, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

We can dance through this pandemic. As Bobby reminded us, “I dream things that never were and say, why not.” The alternative is too deadly. Dance on.

This video is an interview of Eric Idle on the 50th anniversary of Monty Python. that you should watch.