“It’s not a bad idea to occasionally spend a little time thinking about things you take for granted. Plain everyday things.” ~Evan Davis
Let me go back in time. Not too long, but only six months ago when the virus outbreak hadn’t occurred yet. I was cursing the traffic, complaining the beer in a bar was not chilled enough, and hating that the supermarket next to my house did not have my favorite deodorant.
Soon after, due to the global pandemic, my country was under lockdown like many others. When I was indoors, I realized how beautiful and blessed I was to have the life which I otherwise assumed was regular and usual. Little did I know that I was taking things for granted and complaining about the most trivial problems.
When I look back now, I notice many special areas of life whose importance I failed to understand earlier.
I had the choice to go wherever I wished and do whatever I wanted. As long as I did not do anything illegal or break any rules, of course.
I had the freedom to live life like I wanted to. No holds barred, and no questions asked. It was my life and my choice.
Yet, if I had to drive too far, I would whine about the miles I had to cover. During the lockdown, I needed a valid reason to travel that distance and face cops who most certainly wouldn’t allow me to get there.
Staying indoors has taught me that losing control of the fundamental aspects of your life makes you uncomfortable. These are the things we consider usual and expected. We only realize the value of them when they vanish.
Life and technology have evolved by leaps and bounds over the years. In fact, life today is drastically different from what it was a decade ago. Back then, you needed to carry a digital camera for photos, self-driving cars hadn’t hit the road yet, and group messages were not even a thing.
Now, we enjoy so many benefits from the comfort of our couch. You can order food, get your car washed, or send a package to your friend without stepping outside your front door. When the delivery executive arrived ten minutes late, I would mentally curse the company for making me wait.
During the lockdown, I would wait a whole day for the same service. The comfort of technology and the services various businesses provide are priceless.
I had a hard time picking vegetables. I would roll my eyes saying, “Someone needs to produce new vegetables. I can’t eat the same all the time.” That was despite having a large variety in the supermarket. I wanted something fresh and new.
The same applied for the cereals I bought, the restaurants I dined at, or the shopping mall I visited. I had enough of the cereals that seemed to taste the same. I was fed up with the restaurants in the vicinity of my house. I wanted other shopping options than the usual mall next door.
I would travel an extra distance to add variety in my life. During the lockdown, I did not even have the privilege of relishing the usual options.
The more variety we have, the more we crave. Desire is like a treadmill running on infinite electricity. It never comes to an end.
4. The fun outside
No matter which city you live in, you have umpteen opportunities to have fun and relax. I had the option to watch any movie I like, go bowling no matter how bad I was at it, or enjoy the adrenaline of a kart race.
Even though I had very many ways to have fun, I compared my city with others. I complained, “Damn, my city has no options to enjoy nature. I have to go miles away for a trek.”
When I was locked in and resorting to board games, I realize how fun-filled my city actually is.
5. The human interaction
When I went out with a large group, it would take a toll on me. Being an introvert, I preferred only a certain level of interaction. Beyond that, I would choose to be by myself than socialize. The smiles seemed artificial, and the handshakes appeared unnecessary.
Today, when I come across a passerby, the smile lies hidden behind the mask, and a handshake is out of the question. Earlier, we called the people around us a “crowd,” today we call our situation “isolation.”
The memes on the internet, which say that introverts feel no difference locked indoors, aren’t true. Both introverts or extroverts need at least some form of interaction to feel connected with the rest of the world.
6. The power of teams
Before, whenever we had to solve a problem at work, we would gather in a room and exchange ideas. Many complex issues found a solution because human beings can improve on each other’s thoughts to reach the desired outcome.
Today, facilitating such a conversation is a nightmare. Video conferencing tools provide a viable workaround for one on one discussions and team meetings where everyone shares updates. But they cannot replace a bunch of smart people sitting in a real room discussing ideas at tandem.
Moreover, teams who see each other every day, gel along better. The physical presence creates a bond beyond just work relationships. It is the strength of such bonds that facilitates organizations to achieve massive goals.
I realize the power of teams, even more today when they cannot operate like they used to.
7. The giant web of economy
The economy is like a huge castle constructed of many individual Lego blocks. When you take one out, you feel no difference. Take another out, still not too big of a pinch. Take a few more out, and the entire structure collapses into mayhem.
Different parts of the economy are interdependent, even if they do not seem apparent. Shutting down public transport left many people unemployed and unable to earn their daily wages. A lack of transportation implied goods couldn’t flow freely. As a result, we did not have all the supplies in your supermarket.
Every contributor to the economy helps it remain steady. When everything runs well, you don’t notice their contribution. When a few portions break, you understand their role in keeping the whole structure stable together.
The Lessons I Learned from the Lockdown
The past weeks of the lockdown have taught me some invaluable lessons I will remember for the rest of my life.
1. Enjoy the present.
I have targeted gigantic goals for a long time. As a result, my eyes are always on the future, and each day is a grind to get there.
But the world around you is full of things to relish, cherish, and enjoy in the present. I am not saying you must stop chasing your goals and enjoy today alone. I will continue pursuing goals like before, and so should you. But while you are on this journey, don’t forget to pause and experience the happiness around you.
Don’t lose the sense of the present by solely focusing on the future.
2. You feel the pain only when something is missing.
Some of the things of your day to day life seem normal and expected. For example:
- You expect to find all you need in a supermarket
- You expect the pizza to arrive within thirty minutes
- You expect the mechanic to show up and fix your broken vehicle
Over time, such expectations make you lose the value of little things in life. Don’t take such things for granted. You never know why and how they can be snatched away from you. You only feel the pain when you lose the privilege altogether.
3. Your emotions are defined by what you choose to see.
No matter who you are, what you do, and which part of the world you belong to, you always see what you want to see. If you want a reason to complain, you will find a ton of things around you that aren’t right. If you seek happiness, you will notice many parts of your life that are a reason to rejoice.
Everyone shows a common reaction when things go well. Someone gives a toast, people clink their glasses, and everyone dances to the music.
But you cannot always control the world around you to work in your favor. The market can collapse, a natural calamity can occur, or a virus outbreak can happen.
What you can control is how you respond to such calamities to stay strong. Your reaction to such mishaps is what defines you.
The global pandemic due to the coronavirus made my life harder. But, on the positive side, it has made me stronger.
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways—either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.” ~Dalai Lama