Ten things that this lockdown taught me

This is personal reflection essay on ten important learnings during the lockdown.

The impact of this pandemic is huge and unimaginable. While many across the globe are experiencing the worst, for most of us it is still an occurrence that is arduous or maybe unnerving. But whatever it is, there is no one who is indifferent to it and as I reflect on the last two weeks, here are a few of my learnings.

1.Health is wealth: Too often we take our good health for granted. Many of us do not think twice about irregular and unhealthy meals, indulgence in fast food or fizz drinks, giving exercise a miss or keeping irregular sleep habits and self-medicating without thinking of its impact on the body. This pandemic highlighted how vulnerable one can be if one’s health is compromised; and more importantly how we can jeopardize others in the process.

2.Not to take anything for granted:  Like most of us, my life was on a “auto” mode and some of the routine stuff like having warm meals or going to work, saying a hello to someone in the lift, the bonding at the office cafeteria over lunch, week end parties, walking the dog, watching kids play in the park, the bustle of the market and the air we breathe or even a simple hug, were all just banal stuff. Today they are priceless and I am glad for this pause which has taught me to value even these routine occurrences and not take anything for granted

Too often we are caught in our own myopic orbits that keep us on a spin without making us pause to value the small things.

3.Appreciate small things: Till a fortnight ago, I never thought I would miss my newspaper boy or my house-help like I do now! Too often we are caught in our own myopic orbits that keep us on a spin without making us pause to value the small things. When was the last time you heard a bee hum or watch with wonder the joy of new leaves budding on a tree? I mean, when one is busy keeping tabs on the latest car variants or focusing on taking that selfie to flaunt that Sabyasachi lehnga where is the time? But this lockdown brought home that life is precious and one does not have all of eternity. So let us get real and remove our tinted glasses.

4.Value Friends, Family, Neighbours and Colleagues:  If there is one big take away for me, it is the realisation that my biggest assets are my family and friends. I have to admit that those we love most are the ones we take for granted till one is in a spot. But this pandemic brought home how tenuous life is and how fortunate we are to have people who love and care for us, whether it is our family or friends. I took this opportunity to reach out to them and renew old ties which because of the busyness of life had reduced to just dotted lines.

5.Cherish the silence: Unless you signed up for a Vipassana course, it is unlikely that you have experienced true quietude! The last time I went for a retreat was more than two decades ago and believe me the austerity was a little too steep!

But now in the last two weeks, with everything slowing down, I am enjoying this opportunity to get in touch with my own self and like some wise person said, ‘the quieter you become the more you are able to learn’. In short, it is about moving from survive to thrive!

6.Respect Nature: Have we brought about this mess on ourselves? I am not sure. But there are several reports that put forward theories about how nature is reclaiming it space. And frankly, I am not surprised.  We all know that nature has a way of balancing things; and when we have been so reckless and cruel, we should have known this was coming! I hope we will learn some lessons but in the meantime, let us celebrate the clean air, dropping of decibels and watching wild life, maybe even from our windows if we are lucky as they intrepidly saunter on our roads!

7.Curb indiscriminate spending: This lock down taught me what my mother could not teach me in the last thirty years! With all the malls closed and online shopping coming to a halt, the temptation to splurge was met with a forced shut-down and voila I am saving! On a more serious note, it has put a curb on ‘thoughtless spending’. This I guess is relevant, especially now that we are hitting recession and will have to learn to stretch the rupee.

After decades of ‘insta-gratification’ patience was becoming a lost virtue.

8.Have Patience:  Can you teach anyone patience? After decades of ‘insta-gratification’ patience was becoming a lost virtue.  Well Mother Nature hit the re-set the button for all of us and whether we like it or not, we got to learn to be patient.  When I see people waiting quietly (and uncomplainingly) at decent distances at the vegetable market or ATMs, instead of pushing to get in front of the line – I cannot believe that it took a pandemic to get some civic sense into us – which includes even basic etiquette like covering your mouth when you sneeze!

9.Indebted to people who put their lives at stake for others: For someone who comes from a family of doctors I know first- hand how chaotic and demanding their lives are. But this crisis has taken this to a new level. It takes more than just spunk to take the bullet for someone else! I have no words to appreciate and thank all the health workers, police men or fire fighters who are working tirelessly sometimes without even the basic safety gear! It reminded me of a line that I had read somewhere as a kid ‘Greater love hath no man than this that he lays down his own life for others’

10.To think of those who are struggling: It is difficult to imagine the struggles of millions of Indians who till now could manage to send their children to school, pay their rents and have a decent meal. Their daily earnings were sufficient to keep them afloat but now without any notice, their lives have come to a halt.  It could be your maid, your driver or the cobbler down the street! Their lives could now easily plunge into an inexorable grim reality and change for good, but so will ours. 

I feel we are all called to think and act; and our time starts now!


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