Quarantine. Lockdown. Social distancing. Pick your term. To the regular guy like you and I, they all mean the same thing, STAY HOME. And though we know, by now, that the coronavirus pandemic is no laughing joke, it remains, in our heads, a form of house arrest. You have to co-operate even if you don’t want to, or else, you can, literally, lose your life.
It’s not easy to make any regular guy see that an invisible virus, one-thousandth the width of an eyelash in size, a virus that has been depicted in cartoon images as a green ball with spikes sticking out, could cause irreversible damage. That state of denial, in psychology, is called “Optimism bias”. It is the belief that each of us is above average, in health, education, job prospects and more; a deep faith in the higher odds of experiencing good outcomes during our lifetimes than bad outcomes. Optimism bias is what you and I know as “THAT IS NEVER GONNA HAPPEN TO ME”. That, my friend, is your brain shielding you from losing your sanity, freaking out over every possible negative scenario in any one situation.
Yes, you don’t want to be forced to stay home, but you also don’t want to die. And no matter how brave, and careless you act, there is a point where you draw the line. Too many intersecting lines we have out there. Regardless of how optimistically bias you and I are, we still have to play by the rules, if not for our own safety, we do it for the sake of your loved ones.
Making the best of the “You’d better stay home” command, we had to play the hand we were dealt like it was the hand we wanted. Carving a deep wide grin on your faces, and a “Thank God. I needed a break”, we have been dragging our bodies through boredom day in, day out. On the bright side,I know of many people who have gone through a journey of self-discovery, uncovering mysteries within themselves, hidden skills and abilities, that would otherwise still be buried under the weight of life’s fast pace. Be it a passion for cooking that you never knew you could actually be good at, if you did it unrushed, an alarming love for social distancing that would likely carry on even after the Covid-19 nightmare subsides, or any other skill you might have, coincidentally, came across during this period of involuntary self-reflection. Well, if you have been lucky enough to fill what feels like an unplanned gap year, then you have found the next best thing to a lottery ticket.
If, however, you are like me, a restless soul that finds peace in a fast-paced day with too many different things to do, and mini achievements to celebrate at the end of each day, and who feels guilty if, God forbid, you miss out on a friends’ gathering or a new experiment, then you can relate to how torturing it is to be forced to pull the brakes on that train, bringing it to a grinding halt.
How can we survive the current situation? How do we push the “OH MY GOD.IT IS YESTERDAY ALL OVER AGAIN” feeling down? As humans, we are more adaptable than we think. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was pointless to try to convince an energetic person to relax beyond his/her body’s physical needs. We simply can’t and won’t. But now, we seem to be doing OK. We`re home. We’re all over social media. We’re having a laugh here and there. Some of us have even found ways to stay productive in a lockdown.
What has happened, then? Aren’t we the same people who never thought it possible to sit in one place for extended periods of time? Have been suddenly changed? Possible. My only explanation is that, adaptable as we are by nature, our feelings of fear over missing out, anxiety, and stress have been temporarily suppressed by an even stronger spill; a spill that has made everyone around the globe stay home, and animals wonder freely on the streets for the first time in decades. Our bodies and minds have shifted gears to embrace the new circumstances. Making this discovery, we know now that we have one precious gift we ought to exploit every once in a while. Perhaps after the world reopens, you could experiment something you have assumed you would fail at, and that would be your quarantine blessing in disguise.
Whether tossing and turning is in your DNA, or you happen to find pleasure within the comfort of your room, know that you are not a mathematical equation with only one right answer. You are changeable, and flexible under any circumstances. You can make the best of any challenge!