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.
“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.
“You’ve always wondered what you’d do if you had time and were at home”.
“Well, here’s your chance”.
She opened the door. His home-office was rearranged so that his desk was right beneath the window looking into the back garden. There was an old typewriter strategically placed in the middle. He had told her of how the dream of becoming a writer began when he first saw his grandfather typing on one of these. But dreams always got delayed due to some other priority.
“After all,” she added, “when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear”.
For you to see the stars, you need a dark sky. That is the only allegory suitable to describe how to remain optimistic and patient in order to see the positive in a gloomy and tragic situation.
“Staying positive, doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that better ones are coming”. That is something we need to remember now more than ever.
Because around the globe, restrictions of movement, closed borders, bans on public gatherings etc, are all commonplace at the moment. We are all self-isolated….together. We are all in this together. Most of us are called to fight an invisible enemy in an unprecedented war from our couch. Others are on the frontline working night and day in hospitals, witnessing the painful consequences first-hand. All we are called to do is to #StayHome, #StaySafe, so they can help us out of this.
Viewed in another perspective, the whole world is frozen at the moment. As if someone pushed a ‘pause’ button and ‘regular’ life simply stopped. For how long, nobody really knows.
Sometimes even the hardships serve for a higher purpose. It is during the hard times that we realise how strong we truly are. (“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test” – Isabel Allende) And we acknowledge what truly matters. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has proven 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. It is in our own homes and families in the end that we will remain safe. We learn that distance cannot keep emotions away.
But when all this shall pass – because it will – we will come out reborn, we will have learnt (hopefully) to not take anything for granted, to appreciate everything and everyone we have more. Because it is in this distance and isolation that friendships will be tested and relationships will either be reinforced or shattered.
Like Victor Hugo said, “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. Every day is a lesson: the good days offer happiness and the bad ones, experience.
No storm lasts forever. But if we can stay positive in a negative situation, we win. It is up to us how to manage the situation we are in. “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours”.
We can’t change how all this started. But we can change how we deal with it from now on. And certainly what we will learn out of it. To become a bit more humane, empathetic and less selfish. To value the little things in life. To be kind to everything that is alive. And above all, to wash our hands.
Taking an out-of-season holiday has the benefit of being able to relax when everyone else is busy or working. It’s great being able to enjoy doing nothing – or rather something that amuses you – without the crowds, the hustle and bustle of everyone else doing exactly the same, as it usually happens during holiday seasons.
Being able to take time-off every once in a while is a luxury we owe ourselves.
Remember, that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. And that includes you too.
It’s exhausting trying to satisfy everyone else, to the extent that you neglect your own satisfaction and self-care. But ultimately, that is what matters most. Because if you are feeling great, if your mind is at peace, then your body will follow. If you don’t take a break, your body will do it for you, and at the most inconvenient of times.
We need to learn to relax and switch off every so often. It’s the only way to appreciate the world around us, to discover new places, to interact with new people, to feed our self-confidence and to grow.
Sometimes you need to take a break from the noise to be able to appreciate the silence and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.
“The breaks you take from work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation” – Gautam Singhania