‘Without any passport, visa or any legal documents I have triumphantly travelled more than 200 countries free of cost. While I roam around freely, I pity how you are locked down.’ The invisible yet profoundly deadly virus seemed to shriek shamelessly at me, as I sat looking at the quiet and deserted road from my window.
‘No, I will not let your complex properties, fast transmitting nature, the scary newsfeeds related to quarantined people and rising death toll take hold of me. The more you try to challenge us with your deadly personality, stronger we will emerge by standing united, following all protocols and by extending our share of support to our marginalized fellow countrymen.’ I replied firmly hiding my inner insecurities. The vicious and shameless virus seemed to mock at my changed way of life, by virtue of its presence and reminded me of those life learnings that were otherwise lying dormant in my mind.
In times of curfew and lockdown when commercial shopping complexes are shut down, and we are buying only essential items, this treacherous virus made me ponder on one aspect, that is, ‘how little we need!’ or the Japanese concept of minimalism. I always had this habit of making a list of items to be purchased before going for weekly shopping. Pre-COVID days I found myself guilty of filling my trolley with extra things that were not even in my list. Mind you, the list was prepared with adequate ‘Chintan and Manan’. Relying solely on essential items, covid19 vicariously made me reflect on the significance of avoiding undue expenditure. The more we minimize wasteful expenditure, the more we will have left to share. While it’s a good idea to indulge in luxuries in life but living in a disparate world, sometimes sharing can buy us more happiness than buying in excess of our needs. There is a beautiful Japanese word ‘Shibui’ that refers to the aesthetics of simple, implicit and subtle beauty. COVID 19 definitely give us the opportunity to recognize the beauty in the simplicity of life without superfluous add-ons. Minimalistic living and embracing the naturalness and imperfections create timeless tranquillity.
The way covid19 hit us by surprise and devoured our free life without discriminating people based on either status, religion, age or citizenship has a message for all. It’s like a wakeup call for putting hatred, prejudice, resentments aside and strive for building our societies on the foundation of kindness, compassion and equality; that celebrates and accepts differences with grace. It has increased our sensitivity to ephemera, the awareness of impermanence and brutally reminded us of the circle of life. Living in a transient world, is it not better to have lived, loved and laugh rather than hate, kill and perish?
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For many of us this lockdown has left us more occupied than before, managing work from home, doing all home chores and the added tasks associated with sanitizing. Some have taken up washing hands and sanitizing so religiously that they now fear of developing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Despite wearing gloves, wiping everything meticulously, including everyday grocery items, following precautions at the minutest level, people are still living in constant fear of contracting the disease. I am reminded of that song ‘Que Sera, Sera’ written by the team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans that says- ‘Whatever will be, Will be.’ So, let’s exercise all precautions but not panic!
With my students, I often used to discuss that Latin aphorism ‘Carpe diem’ that means ‘seize the day’. In the movie Dead Poets Society, Professor Keating is seen using it to encourage the students to suck the marrow out of life by making the most of the present rather than dwelling on the future. As COVID 19 pressed the pause button for otherwise regular activities of life, I was reminded of it once again. The certainty of death has never been doubtful, but I had not felt the fragility and uncertainty of life so strongly in life before. So instead of deliberating over the harrowing COVID 19 news over telephonic conversations or zoom meetings and worrying about future; seizing the day or rather the moment doing what you love within the existing limitations appears to be a better option. It could be engaging in activities of interest or maybe doing nothing at all, just spending quality time with family. After all, it’s a lockdown, not another rat race where you must prove yourself. Ultimately staying positive, hopeful, happy and content is important.
With some reports of this monstrous virus failing to thrive in people with high immunity, it’s time to rethink about our lifestyle and strengthen our immune system probably. The easiest way of doing so is through proper diet, exercise, and minimizing stress by saying a silent ‘rest in peace’ to thoughts that can be more minacious than COVID 19 itself.
Till we find a solution to this global pandemic through medical interventions, it’s an excellent time to tap on those resources that make us human- love, faith, care, goodwill, compassion, altruism and smiles.
So dear COVID 19, collectively we are not only determined to give you a tough fight to save this world, but also learn our lessons and make this world, a place worth fighting for!
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A featured contributor with The Dispatch, Dr. Farah Naqvi is an academician, writer, corporate trainer and HRD consultant associated with many MNCs and institutions in the field of academics, behavioral training, consulting and research. She has to her credit many research articles published in international refereed journals. Dr. Farah has conducted consulting; Management development programs for a diverse clientele throughout her career. She recently forayed in the literature world with her bestselling fiction novel- ‘The light in Blackout’. Dr. Farah is a regular columnist and contributor in different newspapers and online portals. She loves to express herself through her writing on varied themes.
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