I just got off a call with a friend.
Let’s call her Ria *.
She works in a large MNC and has been working from home in this phase of self-isolation. Her daughter is the same age as Pari.
One of the highlights of our conversation was the ambiguous dichotomy of how we should react in this phase of the pandemic induced global shutdown.
She has been spending time being (relatively) lazy as compared to her usual routine.
She’s been binge-watching Netflix and movies, listening to audiobooks, eating comfort food mainly cakes, spending time gazing at the stillness with a glass of wine (a little more than she felt comfortable admitting).
With the gyms closed, she admitted how her fitness mojo has died and though she’d been trying to work out at home, it wasn’t helping much.
She started with reinforcing the fact of how doing nothing much is helping her cope with the feelings of confusion, hopelessness, disorientation and overwhelm.
Though I couldn’t miss the discontentment in her voice because she had been struggling with the idea of how derailed her life felt in this isolation phase.
I am totally non-judgemental about Ria’s choices.
I have been pretty vocal about my approach towards any crisis in life.
Not limited to the COVID-19.
I have been constantly working towards making the most of this time to disconnect with the distractions of the world.
To make use of the time to pursue the dreams I’ve been pushing off on the pretext of one excuse or the other.
I have been focussing on the projects that were being delayed by procrastination.
Mind you, I’m not suggesting that by the end of this quarantine I’ll be a completely changed, super-successful, fully content person.
Yet, I’m confident that everything I’m doing today, despite the flurry of anxiety, despite my struggle to take one day at a time will add up in due course of time.
It’s not about the difference of approaches between Ria and me.
It’s an emerging trend that’s on a rise in social media.
The popularity of this binary line of thought has amused me from the start.
Like everything else, this phase of life, even if it is painted in the dark notes of uncertainty, chaos and fear is still just a phase of life.
And how we choose to react to it can’t be an altogether black or white reaction.
There’s plenty of room for freedom of opinion, freedom of interpretation and the liberty to choose how we react in these times.
Even if it implies doing it all within the confines and safety of our homes.
The real problem arises when we begin to get rigid in our beliefs.
I am totally up for the idea of –
Taking things slowly, at your own pace.
To take a Netflix or movie break from time to time.
To spend some time reflecting, journaling, reading, relaxing in ways that work for you.
They are in fact great coping mechanisms that recharge our senses and help us combat stress efficiently.
In the initial few days, I struggled with a positive reframing of my thoughts.
I decided to take the changed circumstances one step at a time.
I was kinder to myself if I didn’t follow my usual routine.
It was okay if I stayed up late finding solace in reading a book.
Within a couple of days, something inside me started nagging.
I could feel the itch in my bones to get back to my normal life activities.
My daily routine.
Even if it meant I had to bend and turn them to suit the changed circumstances.
You rest and reset.
But disengaging for days and treating the next few weeks as a staycation won’t serve us in the long term.
Letting ourselves sink into the endless pit of self-pity, self-loathing, finding comfort in food, alcohol or Netflix instead of processing our feelings might temporarily save us from discomfort.
Truth be told, it’s a temporary fix to a long term problem.
Long term problem?
The self-isolation, quarantine phase has been already extended from a few days to weeks to more than a month.
And we can’t be too sure how much longer this could take.
Under such circumstances, choosing to be lazy, opting in for inaction or drowning our feelings in an attempt to find relief is more an act of self-destruction than coping.
Look, one month from now-
You will either have tapped out on all shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime
You will have gotten to know yourself.
Deepened your relationship with your family.
And would have gained new skills and insights that will help you succeed in life on the other side of this pandemic.
You can actively reset, practice daily self-recovery
Indulge in activities that help you move forward in your life.
They aren’t two separate things.
These aren’t chalk and cheese.
They can co-exist.
In fact, these need to be adopted in a blended form to survive this crisis AND move forward in life.
Because that is exactly what our future hinges on.
We are shaping our lives with the choices we make.
We are building new habits.
In times like these, it is our attitude that shall govern our future.
Think about it, we are all hoping and praying to survive this crisis.
And I pray that we all do.
And in my humble opinion, the best way to express gratitude for the gift of life is by making this life count.
By working towards making purpose-driven advances.
By not letting our dreams be and surrendering ourselves to the thrills that will guarantee regret on the other side of this chaos.
It is totally up to you what you decide to do.
I’d like to leave you with a question that provided me with food for thought.
*Name changed to protect identity.
**Hat tip to author James Clear for sharing this thought-provoking question in his newsletter.
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