Once upon a time, we had the perfect honeymoon booked for March. When the time came and we set sail, the winds were favourable. Myanmar, the undiscovered land, was a blissful dream, like a suspension of all that was real around us, so we could live in our own beautiful bubble, away from the terrible truths of the world. Our secret world. Alas, the bubble burst, exactly 7 days into our honeymoon, when our only remaining option was to sail back home with the first tide – and hope it all went smoothly. This story doesn’t have a happy ending, but it is not terrible either.
Living in Quarantine.
It’s the 17th of March. I’m typing this while sitting comfortably cross-legged on our sofa. My husband is poring over his next big home project (cheese-making!) and we’re both, at least for the time being, healthy and safe. Much can be written about what we could be doing if this virus had not happened and turned our world upside down. Much can be said and complained about, regretted and cursed at, and trust me when I say, I did all these and more. I cried, a little, I shook my fist at our fortunes. In my mind, logic battled emotions over and over again, until it felt like I was two persons, at once fighting my husband (always the voice of logic), at once completely agreeing with him. I was distraught, sure. But when I got home, I realised how much pent up stress and tension I had accumulated over the last 2 days, when it all whooshed out of my body in a long, deep sigh. I’m home.
Covid-19 did not have it in for me. Indeed, it doesn’t really care about me, or you, or anyone on this planet for all that, even at a time when you’re hard-pressed to find a single conscious individual not thinking about it. It just is, mutating as it goes. It might seem I was extremely unlucky in this present scenario, but if truth be told, even this is very relative. Like me, many suffered cancellations. Unlike me, many suffered illness, or watched their loved ones struggling to breathe. Unlike me, many are risking unemployment as demand for their services plummets. Unlike my family, there are families that are going to struggle to make ends meet, unless things turn around swiftly. Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to downplay the feelings we each experience as we go through different experiences, But I wish to highlight how everything is relative, and you are not spectacularly unlucky. The whole world is going through tremendous changes, and you are not alone in how you feel, whatever your situation. Perspective is all it takes to change despair into hope, loneliness into unity.
We are a living paradox, are we not? We have managed to successfully create life in a laboratory, and yet one different string of a known virus brings entire populations to their knees, from economical powerhouses, to the height of the most brilliant minds amongst us. Everyone is scrabbling in the dark, trying to feel for the torch they’ve lost somewhere, if only they could find it to light the way again… But if we flip the coin, if we decide, for a moment at least, to change perspective, to see how the light falls if we open the curtain, like so… what do we see?
We see realisation, that humility often serves us better than pride, that honesty triggers a chain of reaction much quicker than lies or deceit ever will.
We see hope, that despite the hardships endured, this race believes in brighter days. For why else would people sing and dance from balconies when their entire country has seized up in a tragic national convulsion? Why would people extend their hand further than they ever have, to reach for people they have never met?
We see courage and defiance, in the face of many whose profession always puts them on the front line, who keep coming back, entirely conscious of the fact that they are not just putting their health at risk, but the health of the people they love too. And yet, they come.
We see communities coming together as they did in the past in times of crisis, rediscovering what it means to be part of a locality. It used to be more than just a word in your address forms. It used to mean a safeguard, a haven, a family outside your own.
Perspective helps you stay balanced. All you ever hear seems bent on tipping the scale towards anxiety and despair – but it’s not true, not really. There are shafts of light piercing the clouds that roll over you. Just remember to bask in them too when you see them.
So what do you do, when life has other plans? When you’ve had to postpone your wedding, your trip, cancel your birthday plans, stay inside? When everything seems out of control and nothing makes sense anymore?
Do what you can, with the time that you have and the space that you have and the gifts that you have. The walls around you do not define your capabilities, what you perceive as limits are only obstacles that need a different way to go around them. Stay balanced. It is never all white – but it is most definitely never all black. Keep perspective. Do what you can.
Ultimately, nothing – not our carefully laid honeymoon plans, not our days, not our life – is ever really under control. Consider this a test of just that; one day we’re riding high on waves of reassurance, the next we plummet. Embrace it, wait it out, keep yourself busy, stay safe but seek help if you need it, read a book, spend time with your kids, your wife, your pet, stay in touch with people you love.
You’ve been given TIME to SLOW DOWN. When was the last time you had that? When will you next be given that?
Take it. And open the curtains, like so.