Shutdown, lockdown, rollbacks, cutbacks, layoffs and retrenchment are all dreaded words in the job market and industry circles. These indicate a loss, ruin, bankruptcy, failure, default, liquidation and debt. The current lockdown or shutdown is unique and unlike since it is not a result of any of these. It is an action that has been dictated and mandated as a consequence of a pandemic. However, in a way it can be said that it is not so dissimilar since there is loss here, the loss of the greatest resource on earth – human beings!
Shutting down for isolation or quarantine, and destruction are two sides of the same coin since one is the contraposition of the other. One warrants the other and one is the outcome or preventive measure of another. For example, evacuation is the last natural response or counter-measure to a flood or fire or storm, inevitable when all other efforts fail. It is done to preserve human life from becoming totally extinguished or extinct. Even though it is a moot point whether human life is worth saving, it goes without saying that human beings, made in the image of God need saving if not salvaging!
This period of lockdown that keeps extending and lengthening is aimed at saving people, not money or land or animals or plants or even the environment. It is an all-out effort to save the great and best resource of all. So to complain or crib against it is unreasonable and actually inhumane. If we haven’t seen and realised this, we would be cribbing about the measures being taken to sustain and preserve human life!
Having said that, it is time to run a reality check, to determine if we have realised and accepted that these measures are to prevent the extinction of the most endangered species of all at this time. If we have figured this out, we would know what to do or occupy ourselves with, during this confinement period. We have been restricted and contained at home, letting go of all that we once thought was needed and important for life. The question is how have been handling this enforced isolation and quarantine!
If you have been sulking and whining about being confined at home unable to go out, or putting tantrums and throwing your weight around, or needling those around you and venting your ire on them, or chafing at delays and being restless about the extension of protocol, then you have lost out!
If we are wise, we would use these extended periods of being shut up:
To recover health
With time to relax and rest, catching up on sleep would have been your priority. Weaning your system off junk food and indiscriminate eating, you would have started a regime of healthy wholesome food, proper hydration and regular exercise.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Start now!
To build and repair relationships
You would have used this time to spend time with family, getting to know them once again, grasping what makes each one tick, etc. You would have repaired breaches and built bridges in relationships, restoring those you may have lost. You would have forged new ones since you have time to talk and enquire, using the pretext of the pandemic concerns to your own advantage in this aspect. You would have tweaked your daily and weekly routine to include giving attention and showing concern for your spouse, playing and teaching your kids, put in place family activities and caught up with senior citizens in the family.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Begin now!
To learn and pick up new skills
You would have taken this season to do things you have never done before and maybe identified acumen you never realized you had, such as cooking, tailoring, painting, gardening, writing and such like. You would have picked back up a hobby you had in your school or college days, something you didn’t have time till now and enjoyed doing it alone or along with your family. You would have gone online and learnt something new, maybe another language acquired another degree or certificate may be, taken a new training, attended a workshop etc.
If you haven’t yet done it, start now!
To enjoy solitude and develop the art of meditating
Instead of being stressed out, you would have realised that you now had time to sit down and have a quiet conversation with yourself, with nature, in the quietness of the night or the early hours of the day – something you didn’t have energy or time to do because of a busy schedule. You would have learnt how to handle silence, listen to a song, heard sounds around and silently noted the rhythm and flow of life around.
If you haven’t done it till now, you still have time. Start now!
To assess and gauge your shortcomings
As your body began recouping with rest and relaxation, as your feelings and emotions began streamlining, you would have understood the mistakes you have been making, especially in relationships. You would have noted your misdeeds and found yourself wondering why you had to be so insecure or short-tempered. You would have vowed to change and become a better person, as you weighed your actions in the past and thought of how you would behave and treat others once this period is over.
If you haven’t at all, there is still time. Begin now!
To count your blessings and be thankful
Most of us have a roof over our heads, food to eat, a bed to sleep and a family that also has all these things. We have been truly blessed, especially in the light of the many migrant workers who have been stranded and trying to make their way home by walk. They have to depend on the courtesy of others and have to wing their way through life depending on the mercy of strangers. We need to count these things in our lives and be thankful to God for gifting us all things needed to exist in a comfortable way. We need to be grateful for this time to unwind, destress from hectic schedule and grace to spend moments with our family.
If you haven’t taken time to be grateful and prayerful, begin now. There’s still time to do so!
To look forward to new times and reset yourselves for a new normal
This season is so providential because we have been given the occasion to pull back, recuperate, reorient, repatriate losses and refocus for the future. Never has the human race faced such a time as this and given such a great opportunity to make amends and reorganize. It is the season to restructure our lives and set our direction according to a new normal, for life is not going to be the same.
If you haven’t thought through things, estimated the new future, sat down with the family and planned for the days ahead, don’t worry. Just do it now!
To value life and align your every priority towards preserving it
We need to understand that life is all about people, about saving and serving others around us. We need to cultivate generosity, weed out selfish narcissism, looking beyond what is of use to me and mine. We need to look past what belongs to me, what will benefit me and make every effort, as much as we can, to protect, preserve and progress life.
If you haven’t ever done it, this is the time to do so!
To understand the connectivity of humanity
We must understand that we are all part of humanity and share the same space in time. We are all brothers and sisters by virtue of being part of the human race, living in the same era in history. We need to accept and acknowledge that we are our brother’s keeper, and therefore responsible to do as much as we can to make life easier for those within our reach.
If we haven’t learnt this valuable lesson, it is time to do so!
To acknowledge the chain reaction reality of our existence
We need to seriously consider the impact and effect of being a part and parcel of the valuable flow and cycle of life. We are not living isolated and remote from others in society. We cannot afford to be estranged or detached from the community we are placed in. This pandemic has made us intensely aware and sensitized us to the domino effect and contagion impact of our existence. What happens in one remote corner of the earth will gradually but surely spread and seep into the economy, health, sociology, culture and politics of every other part of the world. We are all in a web of relationship and so cannot avoid or protect ourselves from this chain-effect.
If you have lived life as though you are the only one and that the whole world revolves around you, now is the time to change!
COVID shutdown time is a time to invest in and rethink many things! It’s a time to sit down and evaluate your life, something you may have avoided doing because of the busyness of life and the mechanical way of existence!
COVID lockdown is a Godsend, a gift from the Almighty to stand still, take stock, realign, restore and refurbish life as a whole. It is the blessing of God, a pause and reset time, a boon to be able to assess and zoom in on the essentials, weeding out the debris and extra burden we have as a species picked up on our way to what we thought was progress!
The question as we face lockdown 5.0 is: what have we done in this time and how have we used it. What have we, as individuals and families contributed towards saving and sustaining the sanctity of human life and livelihood. What are we going to do to conserve and perpetuate the human race, preventing its extinction!
The real question is: Have you been wasting or investing in and during the COVID protocols!