‘Are we there yet?!’. That is what the look of my face and body language is showing on the cover picture (hiking trip with Capetownian friends). Although this image may seem as a random selection from many travel pictures, it serves as a relevant piece of reflection during today’s surreal COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the entire world is ‘’on hold’’, uncertainty on multiple levels kicks in for all of us. Hold up: what was actually certain in life? Oh yeah, that’s right: not much. Yet, I am a complete sucker at dealing with uncertainty. And times of crisis sheds light on uncertainty, including loads to reflect on.
Since my early twenties, I have been blessed with the means and ability to travel across the globe. And this is something I have always wholeheartedly enjoyed doing. Very much aware of the environmental impact, I’d choose alternative options (e.g. train) if possible and, admittedly, at exceptional times. Nevertheless, in my mind it is very normal to travel thousands of miles to the other side of the world for a 2-week trip. And even during that trip thinking of the next destination to go to, or maybe even literally booking that next trip altogether. And then the lockdown came along… A complete tragedy for people heavily affected by the coronavirus as well as our capitalist based economy whilst at the same time a miraculous breath of fresh air for our sacred planet.
So, the next best trip I have in mind is to get out of my apartment for a walk to the supermarket. This has become one of the highlights of my week lately and it is actually quite humbling, but also odd at the same time. It confronts me with the fact that I am programmed on autopilot to always have something nearby, a few months from now, to look forward to. Living from one distraction to the next.
Sitting with the discomfort, in the midst of desire to change
As I touched upon before in this blog, the moment a change occurs in our daily, busy and autopilot routined lives – whether it’s a planned holiday or today’s COVID-19, neglected thoughts and emotions may reach the surface and fill up your headspace. All life’s plans I made are on hold. Everything I thought was in the locus of my own control, is one big joke. And this is humbling, but very difficult at times. With so much discomfort, I have the tendency to act – work really hard to not feel that struggle anymore.
For some reason it is programmed in my system to work really hard, rarely give up and then ultimately things will work out – so assuming I have control over the situation. And then God (or whatever you want to call it – life, universe, energy, karma) reminds me that clearly it is not for me – even though I am really convinced it is. So, being quarantined and stuck with my own thoughts – literally every single day, all day – forces me to sit down and deal with my life as it is.
‘You need to let that shit out before you can start to let it go.’
Breathing in the now, although my mind and heart really want to be in another place and situation. Wanting to change reality as it is. Sitting rather than fighting discomfort, allows us to feel what is deep within us and at the same time see and appreciate what we do have. Don’t get me wrong: I believe we can still complain about our own personal struggles. Your pain is unique and no one can tell you otherwise. You need to let that shit out before you can start to let it go. And next to that, there should be space for gratitude, which is very welcome in today’s ‘’insta fabulous’’ society where we constantly socially compare one another and aim for success – whatever this concept may be.
Our tiny brains are programmed to be creatures of habit and simply cannot deal with thinking that everything, all day everyday, is uncertain. We’d be under constant stress. But taking one or two conscious moments a day to be grateful, can provide contentment of the heart – with or without the coronavirus crisis. Numerous psychological and neuroscience studies claim that there are many benefits, also during times of anxiety, by cultivating an attitude of gratitude. So I’d say: bless your body, bless your soul and, simply bless, YOU in the now.
Breathe, because you don’t know what’s next
Whether it’s your personal life, health, relationship, career: the only thing you can do is breathe and put a good intent to progress (or maintain) in the way that suits your aspirations. And finding out what these are can already be a lifelong journey. So you might as well use this COVID-19 lockdown time to draw inward, rewind and stick to the flow. Cause one thing is for certain: your future is meant to be for you only.