I am the kind of person who needs to step out of the house at least once in 24 hours because I feel suffocated otherwise, by my thoughts, by my surroundings, hence, even 30 minutes of outside time, just for ice cream or a coffee, or just sitting by the beach, listening to the waves, helps me in ways most things can’t.
Because of Covid and being the germophobe that I am, I have been at home for the last 15 days or so and only stepped out once for groceries.
Naturally, I took all the necessary precautions- wore full-sleeved clothes, gloves, mask, sanitized heavily, didn’t do any cash transactions etc. Since I was at home for so long, it did not really register what was happening in the outside world. Shopping at the supermarket, I noticed everyone’s mask clad faces, people maintaining distance from each other, no smile or expressions visible. While I do appreciate people taking the necessary precautions, I couldn’t help but wonder what has the world come to. I mean, less than 30 days ago, I was on my way to Europe for a business trip, and this virus was just one of the things happening in the world, like a lot of other bad news that keeps taking the rounds (like Australia fires, earthquakes and hurricanes around the world etc.). Never did I imagine the world would come to this in just a matter of weeks.
When did walking around in masks become normal? It’s like we are living in some horrific Netflix show and the end doesn’t seem near. I agree that until the situation comes knocking at your door, no one really takes it seriously. But I would like to think that I am somewhat of a responsible citizen, and have been trying to practice social distancing successfully, to the extent possible. What I do not get is why does my life depend on the common sense of other people - how did it come to that?
Mumbai has been on a lockdown since Friday night (Mar 20), but I still see people wandering the streets, playing cricket (for god’s sake), with not a care in the world. Why can’t they just sit at home for 21 days- how difficult is it to understand that each of our ours action will have a direct tangible consequence now, more than ever. I mean does someone in your immediate circle have to die to make you realize that?
Sitting at home with no human interaction has also led to my anxiety levels shooting up at random intervals. I won’t deny I have great support system in my friends and family, who I interact with over calls on a regular basis and that’s definitely a privilege that I don’t take for granted. Some of you would say that we should be responsible for our own happiness and not depend on the outside world for it, and if I am feeling anxious, I should dig deeper for answers. But let me tell you- my anxiety is not because of the social distancing- or maybe partially- I miss being able to sit next to someone and talk.
I miss hugs and being able to just step out without worrying so much, but the primary reason for the anxiousness is different right now.
This whole situation has led me to think about the future- how certain or uncertain it is in some regards. I am the kind of person who thinks about things a lot- sometimes even overthink, but that’s the way I gain clarity on any given situation. This state of lockdown and social distancing has made me realize how temporary things are, how quickly situations can change, how we take so many things for granted and how human life is only a number or a metric. I have always gone above and beyond for my work, sometimes ignoring family and friends or not prioritizing them enough.
While I don’t feel guilty for being ambitious or giving more than required to my work, I do feel guilty about not doing enough for my family. And they don’t even demand anything extraordinary - only time.
I have even procrastinated things I wanted to do myself for the longest time. Like how I always wanted to take a vacation entirely disconnected from work, the tennis and violin lessons I always wanted to take but somehow was always too busy or too tired. I even sacrificed my health to be able to cope up with the increasing amount of work. Although I do not regret working hard because it got me where I am today, I do think I could have balanced things better. I think this exactly is one of the key takeaways from this situation, figure out a way to balance different aspects of your life.
Another thought that came to my mind in this situation is about the future. Do we, as human beings, now need to be prepared at any given point, to adapt to a new way of living? Is this how the new normal going to be? I know I may be thinking too much and you would say that the world is going to be fine and life will go back to normal. But I am not just talking about this pandemic.
I am also thinking about climate change, which is banging at our doors, in our faces, for the last few years now and we have a very thin chance to reverse the effects and avoid a global catastrophe. Looking at the people around, who cannot sit at home for 21 days, amidst a crisis, I highly doubt if they are forward-looking enough to take action now for the future generations. I mean if you can’t do it now for your present self, do you really expect me to believe that you will do it for your future self?
This leads me to think that no matter how much I do on my part, my future also depends upon other people, organizations and countries taking equal and constructive action.
Do I really want to bring or raise my kids in such a selfish world and ruin their life too? Do we really need to be a part of a few more crises to understand and realize what’s really going on? I sincerely hope we understand this basic concept and come together as a global community and demand action from the policymakers before it’s too late. And while I do that, I also pray for everyone who is suffering in the current situation, feel immense gratitude towards those who are on the front lines fighting for our survival, with the hope that all of this ends soon, and we all come out of it stronger, more connected and do not take anything for granted anymore.
Stay safe everyone!