Coronavirus has slowed everyone down. People are staying indoors. Schools and colleges are shut. Offices have been closed down, and employees have been asked to work from home.
Borders are getting closed. Travel is forbidden, somewhere by law and somewhere by conscience. Some are still traveling and facing the wrath from the strangers on the internet.
You shouldn’t visit the doctor unless some emergency has come up. You shouldn’t go to a cafe or restaurant or bar unless you want to get judged by people or get caught by the virus. Now even the pubs and restaurants are closed.
But here in India, Swiggy and Zomato, India’s online food delivery services, are still fully functional. Not that I am using them as my husband and I are restricted to eat home food by yours truly. I do not trust the cooking and delivery process enough to let the outside food in our self-quarantine zones.
You cannot drive to a new destination like before. You cannot meet friends or family. You cannot call a masseur home and that has been frustrating for my husband (on top of the stop I have put to his regular red velvet jars).
Coronavirus hasn’t brought a big change for me. It is usual, except that I have not been able to travel or plan any trip, that I am not able to go out to drink and dine, that I cannot order food from outside, and that my husband is with me home all the time and we are managing our best not to kill each other.
You can say that nothing much has changed.
I have been a work from home or work from a guesthouse/hotel/hostel person for 2.5 years and this time has taught me how to sit quietly on a chair and get my work done. The efficient work schedule and successfully working from home principles that I have established have been guiding me well for the past years and are illuminating my path now, too.
I wake up, go for a run (while maintaining my social distance) or do yoga, skip breakfast (as I have been practicing intermittent fasting for 2-3 weeks), get ready, and work in a small room with a window into a forest. My husband takes up a chair in another room, and we meet at lunch and then at coffee (that he always refuses), and then we make dinner when we both get hungry sometime around 7 in the evening, and then the night takes over.
I have been following the principle of getting your most important thing done in the morning for more than two weeks since the time I watched the Time Ferris and Gary Keller podcast. In the episode, Gary, a successful real estate entrepreneur, explains that your first task should be your most important thing for that is when you have the most energy and can stay focused for 2-3 hours.
It is not that I wasn’t doing my important task of the day first, but for the past few months, my schedule was suffering under the hands of circumstances and social media.
Now back to senses, I pick up my priority of the day first — articles that have to go on my blog, books that I want to read, writing that I have to send to external publications, pins that I have to schedule for a month, and so on.
Sometimes that one important task of the day takes my entire day, and I don’t ponder or wander around while I am on it. My thoughts get into form, pieces get written, books are read, and life seems on the right track.
Try this “first thing in the morning is the most important one principle.” It works.
Of course blog traffic has reduced. Work has taken a hit. We can safely say that the industry is a bit down right now.
But apart from an economic slowdown, people are getting personally affected and that has been worrying me.
Bloggers and writers around me aren’t that motivated for readers are less and affiliate income is low. People who had their trips planned but had to cancel are upset and frustrated. Job workers who used to go to work every day are now stuck at home. Families are feeling confined.
At the end of every day, when I open Facebook for some work, posts of many amazing but anxious people fill my feed.
What is happening? What will happen? We are at home. We cannot travel. We don’t feel like writing. We are bored while working from home. We have stocked up on all essentials but we are scared. We wish it gets over soon. We have the time to clean up our homes, read, cook, exercise, work, spend some time with our loved ones, and watch movies but it is all so restricted. What shall we do? What kind of life is this?
While I read all these posts, my heart fills up with compassion and worry.
Most of the time the solution is right in front of us but we can’t see it.
Apart from all the things that have been happening during this pandemic, I find people re-evaluating their priorities.
They are dusting those books that hadn’t seen light for years. They are digging into their hearts and finding what they used to love. Some are reaching out to watercolors while the rest are opening their scrabble boxes.
Couples and families are working together from home. People are cutting vegetables and cooking together and eating together like families. Some are doing yoga and some are remembering those stretch exercises they had learned in the last gym session.
We have the comfort of staying put in one place and do what we feel like doing. The Internet still works. We have food, more than we need. Water is plenty. Electricity might come and go but we are not in the dark. We even have our hobby stuff hidden in some closets. We have Kindles and unlimited online articles and books.
But while life is moving along, everyone wants to get out of the current scene. We have everything, but we are still not happy.
Why? Because we are focusing on what we don’t have.
It is the feeling of being restricted that we all detest right now.
What else could we need?
We miss the freedom. If we were staying in the current quarantined lifestyle by choice we would have been elated, but now we feel we are forced to live in isolation.
As Alan Watts says in his book the Wisdom of Insecurity, we always try to fight the moment. But as soon as we realize that the moment defines who we are — I am right now because of what I feel — we are calm.
If I am not this Priyanka typing this article right now, then who am I? What defines me? My past and future? No.
But it is not the present we don’t like, it is the future we are worried about. Oh, so tomorrow also I work from home. Tomorrow also I cannot go to Spain. Tomorrow also I cannot meet my friends. Oh, so tomorrow also I can only read books.
When will this resolve — that is our worry. And we have no answer. Not knowing when we will get out of this is what has been keeping us anxious. We miss a sense of security — but we also miss that security is the most fragile thing in this insecure and ever-changing world.
For a moment keep aside the question of when will all this get over. Now, look around. Is there anything else bothering you?
If you are scared you will catch this virus, then take the necessary precautions suggested by reliable sources. Ask your loved ones to be careful, too. This pandemic has made our life dependent on how carefully and intelligently the other person will act. Maybe that is our worry? Then let us act responsibly and hope everyone else will do the same. What about business? It will get back to where it was before you know it.
If you are far away from your loved ones or are stuck somewhere, the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is that you stay calm.
And about when will this get over – Accept that you can do nothing to change the current situation, that it will take its natural course, and everything will get better soon. It almost always does.
If I don’t feel like working, I do something else that I like. That’s all. This staying in the moment thing has helped me stay composed and continue as if nothing had happened.
As Muhammad Ali once said, “don’t count the days, make the days count.”
A writer I admire recently said that we should continue taking care of ourselves and others most passionately while being dispassionate towards the entire thing.
I love what he said so here is my version of it — Take this time as a unique opportunity to stay in one place and just be. Take care of yourself and everyone around you. When things seem under control and you have washed your hands with soap on both sides, don’t go stand by the door and wait for tomorrow to knock. Get busy with today.
Until the next time then.
Stay safe. Stay honest.
Tell me, are you still worried?
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