So, I know feeling empowered to be the best possible version of yourself is the hot topic that’s doing the rounds. And, especially so, for women. Let’s narrow it down to the 30-somethings – because, well, you know, we have kids and chores, and jobs and responsibilities, and mostly no time, space or excitement in our pre-COVID resumes. But COVID times are looking surprisingly different for us. When before, we were surviving, now we are living. Boredom is such a privilege to us. Putting aside the fact that we struggle with keeping our children entertained and have taken over domestic chores with such might – we are finding this new reality secretly liberating. It’s mentally and physically more demanding – it takes thought and action. But at the same time, through this new living, we are building better relationships (and muscles?). Aren’t we all baking? They say food is the purest form of love. Aren’t we all looking at ourselves a little more closely in the mirror? Being fitter is as healthy for the mind as it is for the body. Aren’t we feeling moments pass? The present is all the clarity you need for a future. And, aren’t we all missing our loved ones, our friends, and even those bitches who make us feel terrible about ourselves? Absence is the greatest teacher to help recognise the energy we want to be influenced by.
But, whether you are a 30-something or not, there’s a new-found something we can’t quite describe. There is the bipolarity of positive and negative emotions around every scenario. Stay-at-home has definitely sparked the creative circuit, but it has also set sail our objectivity into murkier waters. Somedays, we just want something we know we can’t have. Somedays we accept the new normal and make temporary peace with the walls we now talk to. And yet, there is a lurking beckoning to the self. Everyday, there is self-discovery, awareness and appreciation. There is self-love in reassuring yourself – you have to grow through what you go through, and that the only way out is through. Even as the online memes make money off the home bakers, home teachers, home workers and home fashionistas – we know, there is something taking us all to a higher orbit of consciousness. A place, we are all beginning to realise is, dangerously addictive – maybe it’s called contentment? Satisfaction? Happiness?
Admitted, some things still suck. Some things make us sore deep inside. Some inspiration is missing. Isolation is no good to the social butterfly. ‘F2F’ meetings are now a distant memory. Will Sunday night dates ever see the light of day? Will bookshelves still hold weary old pages with handwritten notes? Will Hard Rock Cafe just be a cafe? Yes, life is missing its music in many ways.
If you didn’t notice, summer rains are not the same this year – that cigarette with a hot cup of tea, that romance in the air, that daydream moment watching the world go by from an open window. Summer rains in 2020 leave you nothing to smoke, nobody to romance, and nothing to observe. And, that brings us to some realisations of how little things take up the most space in our hearts. It’s not the movies we miss, not the brunches and wine, and definitely not the rush of the day – but the moments that bring meaning, and connect us to our thoughts. The disassociation from the self is fading slowly, as we live more consciously and deliberately – feeling exaggerated emotions, putting matters into perspective, finding semblance more easily, disrupting mundane patterns, and observing our moral axioms.
Something big has changed for humanity. A pattern that has been arbitrary (if that oxymoron makes sense). Some have shown unexpected kindness, which I believe is the most effective, least costly agent of human change. Some have sacrificed the self for the community, and in a war against the unknown, combined faith has to be the only hope for survival. Either that, or science. Hitherto, some have concentrated their efforts towards care and cure, the most noble of all of the above. There never was a time when suffering was so equal or so global – and somewhere, it has brought the mightiest to be more grounded, the privileged to be more fearful, and the developed to be more prudent rather than prejudiced. Today, nobody is invincible. We are all equally safe or equally not. And, that restores the balance at many levels. That humbles humanity.
And yet, nothing will ever be the same again. In a new light, we may learn to explore without abandon, give greater gratitude, find time for the self, experience joy more uninhibitedly, and love more fiercely.
In its entirety, this pandemic saga will have redefined time. The time ‘before’ and the time ‘after’. Every anecdote will be a relative reference to the before or after ‘this time’. Reminiscing and romantisizing the past will keep us going, while romantisizing the future will add a purpose to that kindled fire. I’ll leave you with my most loved reference to Murkami’s ‘storm’, because no matter what the question, the storm always gives you the answers you were looking for or didn’t know you desired –
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore