A new world, a new way of life

When something as catastrophic as a pandemic hits the world and brings life to a standstill it can have a far-reaching impact on the world and on its people. And it may take years for them to recover from it.

Most of the times such events when they happen catch people unawares and it is quite a while before they can adjust themselves and wrap their heads around the event and its repercussions. And when finally they do, it is to realise that life has undergone a complete transformation. The life as they knew it no longer exists. The earlier ways of living, of existing have flown out of the window. And it is an entirely new world and its ways that are unfolding themselves. Along with this comes the realization that it may take a while for life to get back to normal, to what was perceived to be the normal before the catastrophe. And again that normal may never come back and people may have to learn to live with the new ways and embrace them as the new normal.

Humans as a race are known to be resilient and hardy in that they recover from a trying situation very fast and move on. In fact people have been known to quickly put anything unpleasant behind them and go back to the way they were. It is as though the unpleasant, the unsavoury never happened. But does that always have to be true? Shouldn’t the unpleasant be seen as a sign, a wake up call imploring upon us to pause, reflect and correct? Aren’t all the seemingly horrible things the result of a wrong doing on our part?

So therefore if today this calamity has struck us should we not take time off and wonder as to why it has happened. Yes, we could blame others [as we humans are prone to do] but isn’t it a fact that we also worked hard to bring it upon ourselves. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. The reason may not be clear at the time something goes wrong but with time it always reveals itself and we realise why something happened when it did. Should we not then learn something from the calamity, the catastrophe and correct ourselves? Shouldn’t the calamity be taken as a sign from the universe that all is not well and needs to be looked into? Well, I think that it should be. It is a signal indicating that a huge amount of correction is required in the way we function, in the way we lead our lives.

A calamity is nature’s way of correcting humans when humans lose all sense of rationality and reasoning and start functioning in a purely self-centered way. It is a signal that should be taken note of and heeded.

The Covid situation has affected different people in different ways and these are some of my observations. There is one thing that is common to most of us. And that is that this situation has led to a lot of anxiety and stress amongst most people. The stress is related to the fear of falling sick, having to deal with the sickness in a lonely environment away from one’s loved ones, dealing with the sickness of a loved one and then in some cases having to face the stigma of having contracted the illness. Then of course there is the stress of the lockdown and its consequences of sitting cooped up in the house for days on end, not being able to meet friends and family, and in some cases having to adapt to being with the same set of people all the time. On top of that the way the virus is spreading is causing most people to panic as though they are waiting for the Damocles sword to fall on them. This kind of a pressure-cooker like existence which is continuing to persist and sustain itself has caused a number of people to react in different ways. It is as though the stressful situation has blown the cover off their seemingly good selves and revealed the true side, the real side. A real side which is not very compassionate, not very caring and thoughtful. In fact it is quite the opposite. It is a side where people have come out to be selfish, self-centered, callous and unkind. It is a side which has shown that for everyone largely it is ‘Me followed by family” first and everyone else later one. Now it isn’t a wrong thing to care for one’s family but it becomes a wrong where it is done at the cost of other people and their families. It is a wrong where people try to hoard necessities, medical supplies, facilities for themselves without caring if enough or anything at all has been left for the others. It is where the element of “Survival of the fittest” comes in, where the problem lies.

But then if there are a number of people who are behaving in this way there are others out there who are willing to walk the extra mile to help the others. There are people who are donating, contributing and cooperating to aid and assist. There are people who are willing to step out of their homes and reach out to people in need. So all is not lost but the fact remains that a number of people have buckled under the pressure.

Another thing that has emerged from this situation and which to my mind is a big positive is the way a lot of people have used this time of lockdown to invest in themselves. They have used it to rediscover, re-visit a number of areas of their lives and come out wiser, fresher and re-energized. There seems to be a growing realization that life is to be spent in a meaningful way. It has to rise above the inane and the superficial and add value. To that end therefore, unnecessary, meaningless things, activities need to be weeded out.

What I am beginning to observe around me is that more and more people are gravitating towards meaningful moments, meaningful conversations in their lives. It is quality and not quantity that is taking over and people are not only accepting it but loving it too. And somewhere I feel that those days of large gatherings and parties are over at least for the time being. As people are discovering the joys of one on one interaction or even interactions with just a select few, they are realizing how meaningful and valuable they are. Yes, once in a while a large gathering could be welcome but overall meeting up in smaller groups may just become the norm.

It is like when you decide to clean up your closet. You tend to throw away the unnecessary, the useless things. Similarly the powers that be have indicated to us that we need to clean up the closet of our lives. Focus on the necessary, on the important and throw the clutter away. All that running to get the spotlight, running after the material things, the cars, the clothes, the homes, the gadgets was/is actually the clutter in our lives. But we let that clutter our lives so much so that things like relationships, the quiet time with ourselves, the reading, the cooking, the conversations were all pushed aside. It was as though quantity had taken over quality. People had become self-centered and selfish not caring about whose toes they were treading on, what/who they were hurting or abusing. And it was one of the abused, the mother nature that perhaps decided to stop us in our tracks.

The time under lockdown made us see and appreciate what we had forgotten completely. The sound of the chirping birds, the clear blue skies, the peace and solitude around, the sudden explosion of colours in the garden, the clear view from the balcony, the relaxed state of mind, the time with family, the joy of cooking or doing something for a loved one , the joy of seeing the joy on their faces, all the little pleasures that we had forgotten about. The simple pleasure of spending time with our own selves which had but been forgotten has been re discovered. How much one human being can do on his/her own without anyone else’s help? The joys of reading, writing, gardening, painting, singing and thinking all of these had got lost in the running after of seemingly better and more useful activities. I for myself have realized how much I have grown and evolved by just being with myself. The investment I have made in myself is something I had never had the time to do before this. And of course the phones with their myriad features are there to help connect with the rest of the world in whatever form one would like to and whenever one would like to.

The human race has been taught a much needed lesson which is finding time for things that matter. Somewhere I feel the universe ordained for this to happen. We humans were losing it all in our relentless quest for all material things. More of everything which could be talked about had become an acceptable way of life. We were relegating ourselves to a shallow version and defeating the purpose of the entire process of evolution which was to make us better than other living beings.

So we have been made to realise that we needed to declutter our lives, make them simpler and easier. Yes, it is a cycle. We will learn and unlearn but I hope the unlearning doesn’t happen too soon!

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