As we reach a point where we can all more or less empathise with each other, across continents, nations and cities, please let’s first take a moment to appreciate one thing: what we’re effectively trying to stay away from, to distance ourselves from as much as possible, by being asked to stay indoors unless ABSOLUTELY necessary, has nothing to do with hiding ourselves from other people; for what feels like the first time in a long time, ‘other people’ are not what represents the greatest ‘threat’ to us at present. To that end, the very reason for being asked to do everything possible to avoid each other is so as to protect each other, to keep other people safe from potential dangers to which we could unwittingly/inadvertently expose them if we’re not careful.
There’s nothing we’re missing out on by being ‘stuck at home’, and it’s no less fair on us than on anyone else – this is impacting us all in the same way, that is, as long as we respectfully do as we’ve been asked – advised – begged by those who know best.
Rather than being asked to actively help prevent the spread as such, we are instead urged to do everything we can to be as helpful as possible to the services… By doing NOTHING. If you find that challenging, ask yourself whether you’d find it easier to go out and fight, act or contribute towards the overall effort in any active way; would you do it then? Is it suddenly starting to feel a whole lot more manageable to find ways to do what you can, with what you’ve got – right at home??
We’re absolutely not to feel helpless, useless or anything of the sort for not being able to ‘do more to help’; it has been made clear, time and time again, that this is the best thing we can do to allow the right people to do everything THEY can to appease and improve the situation.
What if love itself, and every positive thought or reflection possible in the absence of fear, scarcity, foreboding, selfishness or greed, were enough to stamp the virus out? No amount of thinking about the horrors or torment of people affected, of people treating people who are affected, loved ones of people who are affected, the potential effect of more and more people being affected… Will ever bring us any closer to the end, let alone in a positive way. Instead of allowing ourselves to be drawn in or have fear instilled in us by the media for another moment – what if we got matters and our minds, thoughts, reactions and perspectives back under our own control? How about treating this as our calling: it’s impossible to feel hatred, fear or panic at the same time as love, gratitude and faith; fostering negative feelings over positive ones will not do to ‘get us out alive’, any more than continuing to think, feel and act as well as we can amidst and in spite of the state of our global community. Whatever freedom we may think we’re being deprived of, one freedom we will maintain as long as we exist is the freedom to choose what we think; the best we can do for ourselves, for those around us, whether physically near or far, and (through the power of thoughts) for the global community, is to deprive the Universe of our bad feelings, and instead gift it and ourselves with the best, most positive and most powerful thoughts we have!
Down to interpretation:
Force for good Question 1) How could I use all… this… time…? For a start, perhaps by not wishing it was all over, just like that, and thinking endlessly of the life you had, missed and want straight back; instead, by taking this time, and by using it to do good.
I would like to propose this as a time to rediscover yourself, and to (re)discover all the things that all this extra time on your hands could allow you to do, or to accomplish. Denied the freedom of going outside at will and being in physical contact with other people, instead gifted with a home, food, heating, running water, books, a television, the internet (by no means true for everyone facing this, I know – but, if you’re reading this, then I’m guessing it is for you), who knew we would ever find out what it felt like to miss that level of liberty…? However, instead of staying focused on what we think has been taken away from us – what are all the ways in which this situation could be nothing other than a gift to us?
Home Look at the faces of the one(s) you share your home with differently, and be open to your relationship with them being renewed; however you feel about it, you’re going to be spending a whole lot of time with them for the foreseeable future, which is potentially a LOT more than you’re used to spending together. On top of all the time you are accustomed to spending appreciating them, and valuing their place in your life and your heart, let’s agree that this is enough to bring even that to a new level! Be extra wary of the time each of you needs to spend individually (it’s only natural that you will need more – and it’s not a bad thing, at all), and cherish even more the time you spend in each other’s company. Whatever your situation at the beginning, I’d like to think that you’ll end up becoming even closer as housemates, siblings, a family or a couple. Think of this as your chance to do just that – remember, you can use your time to do whatever you want, especially right now!
Whether that is or isn’t you, time spent alone – of which there will be an abundance, for the foreseeable future! – is golden: whether for you that means a process of healing, clarifying, cleansing it is the chance for you listen to, think for, decide for, act for: only you. If you want it to be, your time can be virtually uninterrupted – except for the odd welcome interruptions in the form of calls or messages shared with distant loved ones (‘distant’ as a matter of perspective) – and there is a plethora of possible ways of spending your precious time, as abundant as the time itself… Please allow me to share with you a few of mine:
- – reading;
- – writing/journalling;
- – stretching/exercising;
- – cleaning/tidying;
- – Skype/FaceTime/WhatsApp calling;
- – watching TV/films/series/videos;
- – looking through old photos;
- – tapestry/calligraphy;
- – … add to that playing video games, drawing, singing/playing an instrument, baking, clothes making (or mask-making!!), knitting – all of which I’m sure, if you’re good or want to get good at them, are really fun!!
Contact with loved ones Technology is as wonderful as whatever we choose to use it for; for most of us right now, on top of the fact that it is perhaps what allows work (and therefore income) to continue from home, it facilitates contact with our loved ones, and is therefore our one solution to keeping up with them at all. Although I have had as part of my ‘Life Goals’ since the beginning of last year to video call my sister, send messages to my brother and share photos with my close friends at regular intervals, only now am I closer than ever to actually doing so… Why?? Why now, when it was neither difficult nor a chore in the past? Surely I wasn’t waiting until I had a big enough reason in the form of a viral outbreak for it to become sufficiently urgent? Absolutely not. Is it nonetheless as good an opportunity as ever to get round to it? Oh, yes – absolutely!!
Creative endeavours Time spent in isolation, rather than being considered as ‘time we’ll never get back’, or that ‘could have otherwise been spent anywhere/doing anything else’, is anything but time wasted: it is time invested. As long as we’re not sick in hospital, fighting on the frontline tending to those who are, or working to ensure the continued security of the nation and its inhabitants then, by definition, we have both the means and the opportunity to put our creative mind power to use in the pursuit of brilliance. Indeed, some of the best works to be bestowed upon us by the minds of such genii as William Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton were conceived of during times of plague, and, therefore: physical distancing and self-isolation. Starved of outside distractions or interactions (not to mention the absence of on-demand, on tap news items from the external world), inspiration took free reign. What’s more – today, not only does the creative energy keep flowing, but we can even share in the genius of numerous musicians coming to life from across the world: their passion and generosity compel these artists, in what could otherwise be considered purely as a ‘time of crisis’, to maintain (and undoubtedly strengthen) the connection with their audiences around the world, for free, in their own homes, using the means available to us and them to spread nothing but love and good vibes.
We have witnessed (and haven’t seen the end of – thankfully!!) the products of the creativity of people who are moved to post their own reflections, home videos and jokes: demonstrating everything from the insightful and informative, whilst beautifully positive, to the utterly stupid and nothing short of hilarious… Thank goodness for our natural ability to make light of a bad situation!! Needless to say, it is by far more productive to choose humour and inspiration over boredom and frustration, whether to pass the time, stay sane or simply make the most of it – whatever you need!!
Historical perspective Whilst I’m not suggesting trying to ignore the inescapable blow to our population dealt by the virus, I would nevertheless like to make reference to the innumerable disasters and tragedies scattered across our history, all of which our species has eventually managed to contain and recover from. In each case, whatever the strife and nature/extent of the torment, those who suffered it have come through. The difference this time is that, whereas people in the past still had to recover their lives, families, homes and businesses all over again, they were forced to do so without anywhere near the same level of comfort, standard of living, nature of technology, or hygiene/sanitary conditions the majority of us enjoy today. In our case, yes, it would be inhumane to be inconsiderate of the inevitable impact this outbreak will have on countless, but no less humane for us to want it to stay as far away from our loved ones and ourselves as possible.
Renewed gratitude You aren’t to be blamed for missing life the way it used to be before this new and unprecedented set of circumstances arose. By contrast, you may find you’re not missing it whatsoever. However, if it is the case, don’t fight against it, or let it make you feel as though you’re in some way ungrateful for your life the way it currently is – on the contrary: when this does pass (and pass, it shall) and when you life does go back to (a new, better version of) ‘normal’, what you’re currently experiencing when you imagine that life will have evolved into a revived sense of gratitude for the ‘small’, the ‘insignificant’ or the ‘everyday’ like you’ve never known before. What better way to continue with life as though you have had a second chance at living it (but for real, this time), especially when so many will not get the chance? Thinking of how you’ll want to feel when looking back on this time from a future point will surely help you to decide what to use it for whilst you’re still here, and while it isn’t too late for you to go back and make the most of it.
Lessons to be drawn:
Projection Thinking of how the future ‘you’ will want to look back on this time from an individual point of view is one thing, but what will we think of ourselves, as a species, when our whole global community wants to look back at this time? When all is said and done, the last ‘Closed’ signs taken down and the first steps back towards school, work, entertainment and gatherings are taken, what will we have made of all this? What will we want to have accomplished, improved or developed during this period? Although an effective treatment for the Coronavirus might be a good start, will there also be other sorts of advancements made, somewhat independently of these conditions? It may well be the time we look back on as the dawn of so many startup businesses, blooming and thriving online; as the return to locally-sourced products and goods, at a time when we found out the hard way what happens when you can no longer rely upon importing them (despite the apparent cost-effective interest); maybe even as the mass exodus from mainstream occupations of disenchanted, dispassionate employees towards a new career destination, having realised the job they had doesn’t fit the life they want, and which they know they are worthy of having.
I hope, and I believe, that amidst all the pain caused there will be a beacon of light in the form of a newfound, newly appreciated way to continue living (‘newfound’ ironically, since it will have so much to do with going back to a previous, all but forgotten way of living!!). Who knows what form it will take exactly – as with so many things, only time and faith will tell – but I should like to think it will leave us with a renewed sense of community among peers, colleagues and teammates, in their relative absence – at least physically; with a remodelled vision of different ways to learn, teach, work, communicate and do business; less dependent on others’ resources than on our own means (thereby reducing the need for so MUCH energy, and resources, to be wasted in order to make those resources accessible to us in the first place); hopefully, the list goes on…
Work and passion Back in those normal days, do you ever remember wishing it could just hurry up and be the end of the day, so that you could go home, or at least just leave work at all costs…? How do feel about the day now? Are you cherishing each hour of every day, however you spend it, or do you still have the same feeling as always? Perhaps you’re already wondering whether you’ll honestly be going back to that same job after all this, this having given you the opportunity to see what else you could do; how else would you have known that you’re able to work from home, and/ or do something creative, which engages your passion and your interests, which other people not only need but also love…?
Nature and the environment The forces which have long moulded and which now govern our society are those which have also trained us up from a very young age to become the perfect consumers. This has come at a price, namely that of Nature, of our environment, which isn’t news to us – far from it – and yet here we are: being reminded by Her, once again, that we’ve gone too far in our destructive habits. Now, however, what with most shops, restaurants and the like closing, for the most part we have no choice but to buy so much less than usual, let alone ‘over- buy’. Whereas any number of us (not necessarily excluding myself!!) might normally have been out pleasing ourselves, buying consumables such as food, drink, cigarettes, cosmetics (many of whose containers are likely destined to top up landfill sites) or clothing, shoes, accessories or any other kind of ‘stuff’ at the slightest whim, right now we’re being taught what it means to ‘do with’ what really is essential for living. Meanwhile, as ever: shops continue to be provisioned beyond necessity (provided we only shop enough for the house until the next time the clocks change, and don’t accidentally shop for the entire postcode until the next-next time they do), bins continue to be collected, streets kept safe and free of crime, emergency calls responded to, radio and TV programmes broadcast, internet connection kept running, people in hospitals and shelters (in spite of everything) are continuing to be looked after by dedicated health professionals – whose wings and halos are, safe to say, well past due…
With comparatively ‘fewer’ things, and ‘limited’ to fewer, or uniquely indoor, activities, and any travel plans for at least the next month out the window (apart from the ones you can see taking place from your window), are you able to say what really is essential to you, after all? Are there items of clothing you now know you can happily give away; clothes, products and foodstuffs you realise you can comfortably do without buying; leisure activities you’ve given yourself the chance not to miss, which could be saving you time, money, petrol…? It is no stretch to our precious planet for every one of us to enjoy a beautiful life, one of abundance, but ‘abundant’ is not synonymous with ‘excessive’, nor does it have to mean ‘abusive’; therein lies the problem.
We are against neither nature nor each other, and as connected as we are to nature and to each other, nature is calling us now. How many more wake-up calls from our environment can we have the impudence to ignore before we fall afoul of our own standard of living once and for all, and we don’t get given any more ‘second chances’? Whilst it’s true that the immediate and small-scale effects have already begun to take place:
• air pollution has dropped dramatically in China and Italy over the past couple of months;
• trade and consumption of wild animals has been banned in China;
• water runs clear and fish can be spotted again in Venice;
… if we want the effect to last, it’ll take a lot more than being ‘forced’ to comply, without necessarily reducing our level of consumption consciously, or of our own volition.
Each to their own interpretation of what this is all supposed to mean in the scheme of our existence as tenants of this planet; for whatever we may mistakenly believe, it isn’t, in fact, ours to do with what we please. However you choose to interpret any situation gives you an indication as to what you will gain or what you will lose through it. Personally, I am as determined as ever to believe that it has its own place in Nature, in our history and in the evolution of our kind. To see such a thing in this way, I think, requires holding a strong sense of conviction that all is perfect as it is, that the Universe knows best (that it certainly knows better than we do) and that all that happens has its own part to play in the enormous and universal balancing act that is Life. Most of all, the time is now, if ever, to be able to approach our own lives, families, homes, jobs, time and selves with an entirely new perspective, as if we were being rewarded with a bigger chance at all of these – at Life.
There is no time like the present to:
- love, protect and strengthen ourselves as a whole;
- use the power of our thoughts to become a force for good;
- rediscover and reconnect with ourselves, our close family members and close friends;
- explore our creativity and take this opportunity to see what our mind is really capable of;
- put the current situation into perspective by looking back at our history;
- learn what we can do to improve our own lives, now and from now on;
- implement what we can to ensure the continued wellbeing of the environment, as well as our own;
- reflect on the past, be grateful for the present and have faith in the future.