How do you find calm in a world gone mad? How do we stay sane amid border closures, flight cancellations, total lockdown, panic buying, and an invisible enemy that’s ruthlessly and indiscriminately claiming lives, breaking down healthcare systems, and bringing the world economy to its knees?
I took the photo above in a town by the coast last week, day 2 of what was supposed to be a two-week holiday that had to be cut short that very same day. How blissfully unaware that little boy was to the chaos and madness fast unfolding in the wider world. Must be nice, I thought.
The tense atmosphere and drastic disruptive changes to daily life brought about by the Covid-19 global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been rude awakenings. I cried the first two days upon our return from that long-anticipated trip that ended almost as soon as it started. The wave of emotion felt like an all-encompassing, overwhelming force that I couldn’t quite break down into comprehensible pieces. That’s the most difficult part of this pandemic — finding calm amid all the health, economic and societal worries.
While walking in the park to get some sunlight and fresh air (always keeping a 1.5m-social distance with others), I voiced a litany of concerns to my husband. He said, “Our main focus now is stay alive.” It sounded a little absurd and funny, but he’s right.
One of the biggest blessings of this global pandemic is PERSPECTIVE. Most of what we preoccupied ourselves with prior to this don’t seem all that important anymore. What matters are the simple yet profound things: love, kindness, inner peace, and all those beautiful things that sound like concepts, but in moments of extreme difficulty, prove to be our lifelines.
The world hit the pause button. Mother Nature is getting a break. A collective shift is taking place where we’re forced to find new (and perhaps better) ways of going about our personal and work lives, how we connect with people, how it feels like to lose the freedoms we might have been taking for granted, how nice it is to have down time of just being with our nearest and dearest. All those, and much more, have come to the surface as we learn to find ways of coping and finding beauty amidst this weird world we suddenly find ourselves in.
We are also forced to face the fact that we, members of the human race, are all on the same side and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, how rich and powerful you are, what your political leaning is — a virus that kills is a virus that kills, that’s all there is to it. The only way we can get through this is to work together. Otherwise, we’re screwed.
(Re)connecting in Isolation
So how to you find calm — stay sane — at a time of forced social distancing and isolation? Unsurprisingly, it’s by seeking out genuine connections that we are able to beat the psychological impact of isolation.
When overwhelmed with emotions rooted in worry, my tendency is to wonder, “What’s the point?” How can I think about happiness or life goals when the world feels like it’s about to end? How important is my own happiness really in the midst of worrying about the collective good and bigger responsibilities? Frankly, that’s the complete opposite of what I should’ve been doing. A good friend told me, “Our connection is a godsend at a time like this.” Indeed, it is. It’s precisely at these moments that we should be holding on even tighter to those precious connections with humans we love.
Hold on to those precious people, moments and memories. Cherish them like you’ve never cherished anything before. This weird world right now, no matter how apocalyptic it may seem sometimes, is teaching us valuable lessons and showing us the depth of human compassion and strength. Let’s not waste it.