A reader reflects on her realities during lockdown
As I expend the lock down time in Dubai, I am also contemplating about other things that I might not have in normal times.
The world has slowed down. That frenetic pace of life that made people scurry aimlessly is missing. This is not an indicator of assured calm but a sign of a palpable confusion, as if people have lost their sense of direction. Never before has tranquility looked so deceptive.
The panic and caution that has driven us indoors and kept us away from the hilarity of life has more to it than protecting us from the virus. The benefits of stay-at-home has been outlined sufficiently by many who took up new hobbies, found time to read or spend with family, but not much has been spoken about how this period of separation from others can be an opportunity to turn inward and reflect on profounder things that we often toss as trivial.
Of course, staying home in the present climate isn’t easy. There is a lot to contend with when restrictions of this scale are imposed. To work from home with frustrated children scampering around all day, to evade panic-inducing reports in the media and stay sane, to even encourage positive thoughts can all be more difficult than we might have imagined.
But this disruption, in my view, isn’t without its hidden advantages. Every adversity comes with its own long-term takeaways.
What tops my thought in these times is my privileged existence that allows me to stay indoors and stay safe. Before we make a big deal out of our quarantine, quoting boredom, despair and disruption of normality, it will be good to consider the millions out there who are exposed, and don’t have the luxury of sheltering themselves and being assured of safety or stability. I take this privilege very seriously, and it makes me want to complain less and appreciate more of what has been granted to me.
At least, I have the benefit of isolation which allows me to think of grander existential things. I can either hyperventilate about the restrictions or utilize it to consider what better will come out of all these when it eventually passes. How will I change, evolve and emerge a better individual than what I had been? What impact can an unprecedented scenario as this have on my overall perspective of life in concrete terms?
No, these are not just esoteric considerations. These are questions that we all need to find answers for. We have ignored the subjective realities for far too long. We are all innately good, immaculate even, but we have veered away from the prescribed paths and got lost in our scramble for physical amassment and self-fulfillment disregarding the cardinal rules. If we look inward closely, we will precisely see what ails us as human beings. We must use this time fruitfully to trace our inner trajectory and sort ourselves out. Let us deliberate, write down and mend ourselves - diligently, with a sense of purpose.
The present crisis is not a challenge to our material resources and preparedness alone, it is also a test of our inner selves to find the viruses that afflict our being and an opportunity to find spiritual vaccines.
We have dallied enough with dirty politics, divisiveness, power games, pettiness, ego matches, greed and every other depravity we are capable of, and no disaster, not even the worst of wars in the past, has helped us tap and reserve the goodness in us for the benefit of humanity.
Our memories are pitifully short and the wisdom that we miraculously summon up in times of crisis peters out as soon as we are out of the woods. At least, this time around, can we utilize the quarantine period to dwell upon how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, and how it is incumbent upon us to give up our decadence for our own good?
Can we take a pledge to not revert to our meaner selves on the other side of COVID? Can we - the rich, the poor, the powerful, the meek, and all alike - for once, emerge out of this happier, wiser, kinder and the better for it?
(This write up has been sent to The Lede by Asha Iyer Kumar, a freelance writer based in Dubai. All opinions are the author's alone and not necessarily that of The Lede's.)