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Don’t miss crucial takeaways from this confused state

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This time will be remembered-8

   By Sunita Vijay
Must we consider ourselves (un)blessed being bestowed with a handsome serving of time on our hands, and use it to try innovative things and keep ourselves engaged during this captivation mode? Or must we be allowed to just be, even if we’re ‘wasting’ time, for the time we enjoy wasting is not truly wasted? Either way, the most dependable, widely-used, fairly cursed and yet not very time-honoured tool – the internet – has proved its mettle during this lockdown phase. It has devotedly stood the test of time, remained a loyal comrade and emerged as a boon. We have mostly blamed the internet for being addictive, a time-waster, distracting agent, a health hazard, disconnector from the real world, the one that derails focus and patience and much more, and for all its other drawbacks, but during this period, when we’re all filled with trepidation, are physically distanced from other humans, deprived of socialising and are forcibly made to stay put in our respective spaces, the internet has truly been our ‘friend in need’ and hence, ‘a friend indeed’!.

I threw a query to Professor Google to enrich me with few synonyms for ‘lockdown’. It instantly volleyed up many options – solitary, isolation, access time, fastener, latch, hasp, lock, deadlock, catch, bolt, dead bolt, safe-keeping, self-preservation, sanctuary, keyhole, protection, custody, pillbox, conservation, curfew, closure, shut, bunker, etc. Interestingly, the hyponym for ‘lockdown’ suggested internment and imprisonment.

Yes, we are secluded, bolted in our homes for safe-keeping and self-protection, with access to time in hand amidst the sanctuary called home, engulfed with fear and anxiousness in the heart and a lot of domestic work to do. This solitary phase is unique, a lifetime experience! Is it a blessing or a bane? It is here to lift or dispirit us, to gather moss or polish our rough edges, so we become fat-&-dull or turn bright, we heal our minds or lose it? The choice lies within us; the steering wheel is in our hands.

If someone were to ask me, I would rate this time as the most shining yet a dark chapter of my life. If it has dismayed me at times, it has also made me stronger and judicious at others. COVID-19 flu has taught me crucial life lessons that I may not have learnt while being in my Goldilocks zone. It looks similar to the saade saati, the seven-and-a-half years long transit of Saturn in the cosmos perceived to be the most trying period in Vedic astrology; this is when the strict disciplinarian Saturn transits over three signs in one’s birth chart – the moon sign, and the ones before and after the moon – naturally throwing tests, challenges and learnings alike in a person’s life. It remains the most feared transit by the ones who believe in this science but in actual practice the saade saati must be viewed as a refresher course of life. During this time, we are enrolled in Saturn’s class. Saturn, considered to be the most malefic planet in astrology, in reality signifies restriction, hard work, responsibility. Saturn behaves like a teacher, punishes the students when they err and rewards when they perform good deeds. As a martinet, Saturn furnishes weird experiences and life-changing lessons, that too the hard way. It makes us realise our true worth, our shortcomings, how to amend, rectify and change for the better. If saade saati is the learning period in one’s individual life, it is the same feeling I own at present vis-à-vis the lockdown phase. As the virus pervades the Earth, it is making the human inhabitants go inwards and ponder over the past mistakes that humanity has committed and reinvent ourselves. I bow down on all fours in front of COVID-19. Please don’t take me to be a case of Stockholm Syndrome romanticising the idea of my captor. It’s a deadly virus alive in our lives. It is destructive, and seemingly omnipresent. It is fearless. It is indiscriminative with its affections, love and hatred towards person, country or wealth; it is humongous in terms of its bizarre practicality. It is truly scary!

However, the pandemic has given a tight slap to our dysfunctional conscience, over-ambitious ego and lofty aspirations. It is behaving like a teacher. It has taught what many mothers failed to teach their kids when they were under their umbrella – to help, cook, wash, partake in house cleaning, stay at home and relish family time. It has taught the fast runners to slow down and be at ease. It has pushed the lazy ones to work physically and observe the difference in their health, physique and energy levels by doing one’s own household chores. It has enlightened the wealthy that dependency on domestic workers is impacting their health – more the domestic helps, more chances of contracting infections and flu from the assortment of germs they might bring into the house and the lack of immunity one develops when the body is not exerted even for basic chores. It has taught junk food lovers to eat healthy and home-cooked food. It has taught the ignorant hubbies to appreciate the homemaker wife. It has taught that life is not about money or a status-building endeavour, it is much beyond all the materialistic aspirations. It has taught us to be happy and seek joy in whatever meager assets we have. It has taught us that maintaining mental balance is the most important thing in life. A strong, harnessed mind can manage all the ills and indirectly work in providing robust immunity and improve health parameters, while a distressed mind invites disease. It has taught the hygiene-ignorant beings to work towards cleanliness of their homes and surroundings. It is going to be a team effort now onwards. An ignorant action by one may affect and infect many. We all have to be united on this yet maintain certain preventive norms, at least for next one year till this virus loses its grip. This time requires self-sustenance, self-dependence, self-awareness, selfless pursuits, a calm mind and a simple living.

Let’s be good managers. We all will face different degrees of anxiety, restlessness and despair during this time. Statistics indicate that lockdowns, quarantine and curfews do show a rise in addictions, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, loss of identity and fear of future. Do not ignore major mood changes and energy levels. Do consult a mental health professional before it is too late.

Let the takeaways from this period be life-reforming rather than cribbing over the present scenario. We have understood the problem. We have accepted it. Now, we have to face and fight it. Let’s ‘live’ till we die.

Be alive, be aware, be in the moment. We have a lot to unlearn and learn. So be it!