A Covid-19 Induced Pause

I shouldn’t have run on the roads during the first few days of Covid-19 induced lockdown – though the area I live in is quiet throughout the day, even during normal times.

From now I will run on my apartment’s roughly 45 ft x 25 ft terrace. Yesterday I ran 5 km and I felt liberated despite the constricted space and slower pace.

The rapid spread of the virus from one to many indicates how my life is intertwined with the lives of people around me. There’s a sense of responsibility and accountability knowing many are counting on me to stay safe from the invisible enemy. The world depends on me in many ways to stay safe and to keep others who depend on me safe.

There could be deadlier threats breathing down our necks. According to experts, climate change could make Covid-19 look like small change in a few years. The virus of hate, communalism and nationalism fragmenting countries around the world are poisoning the innards of our consciousness and societies.

The gathering storms are invisible, so we ignore the many warnings. We have become event centric, getting caught up in the fragmenting vortex of one event after another. Our eyes are not trained to see our lives as part of a unified whole. Idealism and causes are not what power our lives.

The raging fire I am staring at currently is Covid-19, so let me not be distracted by other gathering storms. This fire is going to consume many. Once the virus settles into the dust of time, millions would have lost their jobs. Thousands of businesses across the country would have been badly rattled.

My business will not be an exception. I am scared about the prospect of making expenses without revenues. The uncertainty of it all is unsettling.

This fear is paralyzing because I allow forces outside of me – Covid-19 and its imagined aftermath – to colour my world. And I react in panic, looking inside from the outside. I have to admit, I am conditioned to reacting this way most of the time.

Instead of reacting, I can respond to the situation outside.

I respond when I, from the reservoir of energy within me, explore ways of rising to meet the challenges outside. This is what happens when I look outside from the energy inside. There is power, freedom and calm in this way of looking.

I have read about this stuff and I am convinced this is the right way of meeting challenges. But right now, my experience is different.

But I can get there. As I experience the reality from the inside, as it unfolds. And respond adequately to the evolving challenges.

In a way, that was what I did yesterday when I went to the terrace and ran 5 kilometers. There are solutions and when I find them from the depth of silence, I feel strengthened.

Even in this time of constraints there are opportunities.
I remember Wendell Berry’s words: “The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Something tells me that Covid-19 carries a gift. Of exploring the difference between reaction and response. I have to make use of the silence of these days to experience the difference. So that when the shutdown ends, I am ready.

I realize, true understanding dawns in the present. My exploration is going on. And even as I am writing, I am experiencing the experience.

And I am ready.


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