It is both ironic and painful to see that while the world has come to a halt due to the ongoing quarantines and country-wide shutdowns, there is still a cacophony of panic and restlessness in the silence that shrouds the major part of the globe. During such times people engage in noble practices like introspection and reflection, even without having a philosophical bent; I believe the urge to do so is innate, we just need the conducive conditions – unfortunately, now we have that.
What most of us must are experiencing, in the form of anxiety, anger or disappointment, are indeed different stages of grief. We go from denial i.e. this won’t be happening to me, that delusion of being special that we all have, to anger, bargaining and sadness where we finally start to realize that while we can’t roam freely as we use to (anger), that this is the way to stay safe and if we follow instructions we’ll be better (bargaining) and finally, the helplessness about the whole idea of it and the fact that you aren’t aware how is it going to end (sadness).
But wait, there is more to it. If you push yourself and don’t stop there you will come across Acceptance -another stage of grief – which entails, evidently, accepting the fact that this is how it is going to be but begs the question: what will I do about it? This stage demands action stemming from a rational response to the ongoing crisis. The grief we are talking about is anticipatory in nature – but once you can anticipate the worse – that, in this instance, is contracting the disease itself, you might want to figure out various ways that may help you from contracting it. Here comes human resilience that forces us to stand tall in testing times as such. Yes, it is very difficult to escape from this virus, but I can wash my hands, keep myself at a certain distance from others, if I have symptoms- self-isolate!
This also reminds us of a brilliant piece of advice given in Dale Carnegie’s humdinger of a book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, that “bear lightly with what is inevitable”. Also, as worrying won’t help try this three step exercise.
Step 1: Identify the worst outcome.
Step 2: Accept, with hand on heart, this outcome.
Step 3: Work on improving it!
We all can easily implement it in the current scenario.
Finally, there is another stage that Scott Berinato shares with us while walking us through stages of grief. That final stage is “Meaning”. Here is where I we may find the perfect solace. What is the overall meaning of what is happening right now? If life is an experience to learn from what is, then, the key take away from this very lesson?
That takeaway is a realization: That we might have been going too fast, the excessive work, the resultant burnouts, the ever-challenging demands of a modern lifestyle, all this and much more. It was as if we were on a very fast moving train and someone pushed us back; because at that speed the journey wasn’t without dangers. Whether we believe in any religion or not; we can all agree that this self or imposed isolation, this forced slowdown introduced in our life, isn’t without a meaning. The key here is to understand it. I’d say it is a reminder of both significance and insignificance of what Carl Sagan (narrating in his beautiful voice) calls the Pale Blue Dot.
This is a reinforcement that we, at one point, are helpless before forces of nature and that this world is not only about money, greed, fame or other hedonistic desires. But it is a place where we need to practice compassion, exercise restraint, and above all give time to our loved ones and ourselves as well.
So, let’s make the most of this quarantine and isolation and take this time to reflect; to introspect and come out of it as a better human race than we were before.