They had been planning the event for months. It was something that had caused many hours of stress, conflict, intense disagreement, even tears. But it was also what made them happy, because it was going to mark the beginning of a bright future together. They believed it.
But very often, it doesn’t matter what plans you make.
Life happens regardless.
And things capsize abruptly.
That day it snowed heavily. Everything was so beautiful in white. Everything but her.
He cried a stream of tears because he remembered their first snow day together.
It is said that the problem with the modern world is that we become too attached to things and give them more importance than we do to people. Or perhaps the problem is that we become too attached in general.
The truth is, we become attached to things and people in which and whom we seek to find ourselves. It is the memories we become attached to, the things we reminisce when looking at a thing, or when being with a person. It’s that feeling that revives inside of us when we are around them.
My laptop crashed suddenly yesterday evening. It only took a second to happen, but it changed everything. My laptop is both my work and my pleasure. So you can imagine there is a lifetime building on it every single day. It’s as if having a best friend in the form of an object. And it just…crashed, leaving a feeling of having ripped out a part of me.
It’s not the object itself we become so tightly bound to. It is everything it represents for us, all the things it got us through when there was no one else around, all the aspects of our character that we forged around it and through it, the hopes and dreams we invested in it, and all the moments it represents for us.
So in essence, it is not the things we are really attached to. It is that part of ourselves that we found through them.
There are photos that capture inside of them a bit of your soul. You look at them and can remember every single sentiment you felt in that very moment the photo was taken. You can sense the aura of the person you’re with. The feeling in the air around you. The emotions that ran inside of you.
There are photos like this that you want to keep forever. Or as long as that lasts.
But there are precisely those photos that hurt the most when that sentiment expires.
When you no longer feel that joy, you want all evidence removed.
Tom was frequently likened to a cat. Mainly because, whenever he could, he slept for most of the day.
He didn’t mind being compared to a clever feline. He rather saw it as a compliment.
Cats are perhaps the most independent pets around. They can take care of themselves and act as if you’re living in their house rather than the other way around. They are the beings for whom the problem during lockdown is that everyone else is staying home with them. But they can also teach you so many things on how to manage self-confinement. They know how to adopt a slower pace of life as the norm; to seek out the sunny spots in the house; take stretch breaks; stay curious and always discover new things making each day exciting; contact a human every so often; keep a tidy space and clean yourself often.
Cats are the embodiment that life is easier when you’re not too busy with what others are doing.
The problem with people like Tom is that they can’t be like cats for too long. Everything in life requires a measure, a balance to be complete. And even though it is healthy to spend time alone; to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person, happiness has greater value when it is shared.
And in order to be able to live fully, we need more people (or animals) in our life. People who share our concerns, and who will seek us out whenever we choose to disappear in the most incredible hideaways.
We will meet again soon. For the time being, choose to shine; it’ll soon become a habit.
So we’ve spent perhaps one of the strangest Easters of our time. But we managed to celebrate it as much as possible, with people who are far yet near with the aid of technology, with love and wishes that know no borders, and with optimism and positive vibes that everything will pass and we will meet again soon.
The truth is that if you’re not in hospital, if you’re not sick, if you’re “stuck” at home with your family, if you even have a home, if you’re not entirely alone in a house away from your loved ones, this Easter in quarantine was not your worst Easter. In fact, it may even be your most memorable one. Because it taught you lessons you so far failed to see.
How to spend time with the people you share your home and life with; who matters and who cares enough to be around even if they can’t see you in person; the importance of exchanging wishes and words of encouragement even if no physical interaction may be involved. But most importantly, it revealed the reinvigoration of going outside for fresh air, for a walk in the park, or around your neighbourhood – parts of which you just recently discovered. How to spend time slowly, relishing every moment of it, to pause, to breathe, to enjoy things that we missed or didn’t have time for.
The lockdown is actually forcing us to slow down our pace of life and in the process to actually live our life.
And as we relax, inhaling the cleaner air around, we wonder why we haven’t lived like this for so long. Why this wasn’t the normal we are all longing to return to.
There will come a time when we will reminisce the weeks we were forced to stay home, learning to value the time we have and appreciating the small things that we miss, despite our constant moaning about our confinement.
Wouldn’t it be great if we would have learnt something out of all this and changed some of our habits?
“In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” – Dave Hollis
She never really asked him what he wanted. Because she knew how to distinguish between wanting something and needing it. We tend to have in mind things that we want, but if we ponder on them a bit longer, we realise that we don’t really need them. Because in reality, we have a lot. We’re just not grateful enough.
He didn’t answer immediately.
His gaze wandered out of the window to the spring sun that filled the back garden. Everything was illuminated. It seemed so much more positive than the last time he was here. He himself felt brighter, more optimistic.
“I need a hug that lasts more than a deep breath. A long walk on the beach. And a late night talk, the soul-curing kind. That’s what I miss the most. Being able to connect mentally as well as physically. People being real”.
She felt a wave of cynicism camouflaged into pessimism approaching. So she quickly shielded it off.
“You’ve made a lot of progress in healing yourself. In realising how to separate your wants and needs and how to comprehend what is more important. You should be proud of yourself for that”.
He tried to smile, still staring outside. Something was still troubling him.
“In life, there are two types of people,” she began. “The optimists and the pessimists. The pessimists are usually right. But humanity’s progress is due to the optimists. Remember that when choosing what you allow to drain your energy. If you can’t control or change something, there is no point in allowing it to affect your mood”.
With our “normalcy” ruptured, our minds are daily overwhelmed with a conflict of thoughts. It’s not easy trying to maintain a positive attitude in a midst of negative news. When you are constantly bombarded with statistics about new Covid-19 / Coronavirus cases, deaths, ventilated patients, those recovered, restrictive measures, fines for violation, increased risks, etc., our minds become a battlefield between optimism and pessimism.
But in order to maintain even a trace of sanity, we need to regain control.
The energy you store inside you and the one you radiate are equally important as the food you nurture your body with. Energy is contagious; if you hang around with negative energy, if you allow it to infiltrate you, you will eventually start to absorb it. Seek out positive company, like-minded people, good news, feel-good things to watch and read. As cliché as it might sound: be the energy you want to attract. And you’ll see your mood change.
Negativity can only affect you if you allow it to; if you’re on the same frequency. So vibrate higher. Shine brighter. And choose to believe that better days are coming.
It is obvious that our lives are changing and with it our daily routines. Whatever we so far considered “normal” may not be as such when we eventually exit this unprecedented crisis. Even the concept of what is “normal” has now obtained a controversial meaning, along with whatever we previously considered as given or obvious facts, such as the need for cleanliness which, although formerly seen as an obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), now has become an imperative necessity.
The fear of contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) during its violent and uncontrollable spread is now accompanied by the anguish of when cities and markets will regain their pulse after weeks or even months. What scares us the most is the unpredictability of all this.
We are treading on unchartered waters, moments that will remain engraved not only in our minds, but in global history. And we are unprepared for it. Because instead of investing in research and health programmes – in the essential – we grant importance to the ephemeral, things and people who in times of crisis will have no value or use.
There are many theories circulating regarding the Coronavirus. How it is a conspiracy of the strong and powerful to further manipulate and subdue the weak masses; on the conflict between East and West; on economic interests etc.
Whatever the case, the current pandemic constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity.
It is a challenge for healthcare systems that have broken down due to lack of infrastructure, and resources both human and material; for state aid to be offered to those most affected; for social solidarity that is necessary now more than ever; for individual responsibility that many continue not to comprehend; for our mental health primarily, and for every kind of relationship we have.
This absence of regularity, the abrupt disruption of our daily lives, our routines, has shaken us to the core. This is aggravated by the fear of the economic impact or an imminent financial crisis, together with the lack of connection with other people. Suddenly, we find ourselves with an abundance of time, but no people to spend it with. All this heightens the feeling that we have lost our sense of safety. And this in turn makes us miserable; it brings upon us an undefined grief.
It is only if we manage to find the positive in a negative situation, that we will be able to fight it; to save ourselves both physically and mentally. For every illness, the remedy is always a strong immune system – resilient antibodies – to be able to cure ourselves. The same goes for the thoughts that we allow to occupy our minds. A head full of fear has no room for dreams. So let’s be optimistic, because as Winston Churchill said, “it does not seem too much use being anything else”.
The truth is, we should be grateful about how privileged we are that amidst a global pandemic we have been ordered to stay at home – in our refuge – in the safety of our own space, reading, watching TV, working, creating, with a full fridge and few worries, waiting for this all to end. Most of us are called to fight this invisible enemy from our couch.
Yet, we complain for the opportunity to get away from the routine we constantly criticised for draining our energy and leaving us little time to do the things we really want. Here is our chance to remember our hobbies, to watch TV, to learn something new, to read books, spend time with our loved ones, to (finally) get acquainted with technology, to invest time in ourselves and our priorities and evolve stronger, improved.
But we still complain. When other worse hit countries are forced to choose who to save because their healthcare systems are overwhelmed. We complain because we are staying home, when there are people who don’t even have that. We spend a lifetime staring at a screen, yet now we suddenly all want to go outside. The forbidden is always sweeter, they say. Even now, under these dire circumstances.
In the time of Coronavirus, everything is changing.
And when all this shall pass – because it will – what will we be left with? Apart from an earth that has pushed a small ‘pause’ and managed to heal itself, and leaving aside reports about a new hantavirus, what will we have learned out of all this? Will we wash our hands and our communal spaces better? Will we maintain social distancing? Will we consider that our individual actions have an impact on others? Will we appreciate more the time we have, the people around us and everything we consider as granted? Will we view life with a different lens?
The Coronavirus pandemic has proven how unprepared we are, because we consider so many things – even health – as granted. It is a shock on the global health system, on governance, security, but mainly on our values. It showed that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. But in the end, it is up to us to demonstrate that the lives lost daily are not in vain. It is our responsibility to change ourselves to change the world.
“I had a visitor today! Wait, I’ll show you. I managed to take a photo”. She scrolled through her photo gallery on her phone, while her friend was patiently sipping his coffee on the other end of the line. He smiled at her through his screen as he saw her eyes light up with enthusiasm at the news.
It was their daily teleconference. Well, the morning one. Others would follow during the day.
It was the new quarantine routine. Some moan about it, while others do their best to show that distance doesn’t matter and it can’t keep us apart.