I was on my treadmill this morning, getting that mandatory 40 minute workout. I usually listen to music while I trudge away, but today, I thought of logging into a live video session with Dr. Shefali Tsabary and Renee Jain, authors of the amazing book “Superpowered”. During the on-going discussion, Dr. Shefali said something that literally stopped me in my tracks. She said: “you know, this virus, it’s like Yoda! So many teachings, so much to learn!” Being a STAR Wars fan, I simply couldn’t let that one slide and I spent the next 30 minutes recalling all the quotes of Yoda I could remember, and I thought to myself, “oh bloody hell! How right she is!”
Here’s some of the quotes I thought of while still walking, and then some more I couldn’t immediately recall – aunty Google to the rescue! Here’s my Top 6, in order of their absolute relevance to the situation we all find ourselves in – the world over:
“Of the moment, be. In the moment, live. The art of remaining in the present, learn. Neither the past nor the future exists.”
Yes, the future scares us all. But can we control it? Do we have any clue how badly this virus will impact India? How long this lockdown will last? When the corona vaccine will come? We don’t. So why not focus on things we CAN control? I can control the time I have for exercising – I know early morning is the best time, before the child’s online classwork and WFH pressures spirals everything out of control. I have control over my own lethargy, printing out my daughter’s class worksheets, creating my to-do list, planning the day’s menu. I have control over keeping myself and the family safe from the virus by ensuring we wash our hands, not touch our face, wash down all the groceries before they come into the house. So, these are the things I focus on. Today, now. It keeps my anxiety at bay and stops me from worrying about things I hold no sway over.
"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is."
One of my most revelatory moments during this entire lock-down period has been my 8-year old. For someone used to being out of the house for 12 hours in the day, to be stuck indoors 24 x 7 seemed an inordinate ask. And she’s surprised both my husband and I. Between her LOL dolls, her online school classes, and her imaginary space station (with poor Kismet, the ever patient fur-sister, as a co-pilot), I have yet to hear those dreaded words: “I am bored”. This virus has taught me to recognize my little one’s resilience, her ability to adapt to an altered environment without protest. To simply be.
“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
The aftermath of hatred towards a whole community that emerged after the religious congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, took me by surprise. Rational, educated, cultured, well-traveled folks were in my Facebook feed, dripping vitriol, some even calling it “bio-jihad”. As the feeds came pouring in, I could feel my angst rise. A whole community being vilified, demonized Why? It was fear. I understand that now. Fear of what would befall them for the criminal acts of a mindless few. As Yoda rightly said: Fear → Anger → Hate → Suffering. We went through the first three cycles in the span of just a day. How long do you think the last one will take? And how long will it last? Not just for those feeling the fear, anger, hate…but for all of us, all of humanity. How long?
"You must unlearn what you have learned."
Everyone talks of the “new normal”. The Monday morning meetings, the physical files moving from desk to desk, the coffee machine banter, the bitching in the office aisle, the cigarette breaks with colleagues…we have all had to “unlearn” this now. The whole world is now working from home. There’s no metro to catch, no car to drive to work, no plane to fly on to reach a meeting. For some of us, the virtual office has been the norm for a while, but for the large majority, not having an office to go to or holding an important meeting via video conference and save on carbon footprint was a non-starter. We’re now learning to work with the new alternative, and I dare say, perhaps make it the new norm? Once the virus has been through its marauding march, will corporates go back to their old ways or will we have all learnt what Yoda taught young Luke Skywalker?
"If routine you count on, disappointed your hopes will be."
It’s hard to have any sort of routine right now. Between WFH, cooking the meals, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and supervising the brat’s classwork, routine has gone out the window. So, don’t count on it. Flow, just flow, be in the present. That’s what I am learning from this Corona virus!
“Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”
Here’s what the virus taught me – don’t react. Annoyance, sarcasm, hostility, outrage – it serves no purpose. Someone has an opinion contrary to yours, it’s best not to react immediately. It is a conscious decision I have made until we emerge out of this darkness – I choose to be the candle. I am tired of the angst and anger, the fear and fulminations that we’re bombarded with. I’m done with the gloom and doom. There’s so many stories of compassion and kindness emerging from every corner of the world, let’s share that instead. Let’s spread that light. This night too shall pass.
I’ve been through cancer and a car accident. I’ve had 12 surgeries and have been laid up in bed for months with my right hand strapped to my chest and my eyes shut, surrounded by darkness. And in all those months, I learnt to eat with my left hand, could make out who had arrived at the door by the way they twisted the handle, and could recognize my parents’ emotional state by the imperceptible break in their voice when they spoke. And in all that time, I knew one thing…that this too shall pass.
As Yoda would have said: This virus is teaching us a lot. For us to learn it is.
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Dilshad is an inspirational speaker and is invited by corporates and institutions to speaks on topics closest to her heart. Being a cancer survivor, her talks focus on doing what you always thought was "impossible" and turning that into "I'm possible" (with due credit to the great Audrey Hepburn!)