For the past 10 months, we have been on “lockdown.” Maybe not a physical lockdown like March/April, but we have been on an emotional lockdown since then. For many, the last ten months were emotionally difficult and draining.
But during that time, I learned the importance of a lot of small things that we overlook in life. Here are my top 5 things I learned during the past 10 months:
Selfishness vs Selflessness
When I began driving at 16, my dad taught me a concept called defensive driving. He said, “Unless you’re in NASCAR, you should not be an offensive driver. You are not on the offense but on the defense. Meaning drive to protect others and yourself rather than risking an accident.”
Similarly, many of us started to learn the importance of protecting ourselves from the virus. We washed our hands more often, sanitized every counter, and wore masks not to keep us safe, but to keep others safe as well.
The epitome of selflessness during this time was and is the healthcare workers, who have sacrificed holidays, vacation days, sleep, and more in order to keep the community safe and healthy.
There’s Always A Silver Lining
Although we all were forced to stay in our homes, it gave us time to think about what matters the most. I was able to spend time with my parents and grandparents over the spring and summer. I took the time to learn various things to fix around the house with my father. Reading became a priority for me. My spiritual knowledge grew. I gained opportunities to develop my creativity through personal projects.
Although the lockdown was hard, it brought perspective and gratitude back to many.
Balancing Solitude with Social
But it wasn’t all fine and dandy. The lockdown did affect many in terms of mental health. I was not exempt from this. But it gave me an opportunity to appreciate both aspects of life. Solitude is important for reflection, creativity, and learning while being with others allows for communication, relaxation, and support. But spending too much time on one or the other is detrimental, one leading to depression and the other leading to anxiety. A balance of both is needed for healthy mental and emotional health.
Technology has made it easier to communicate and connect with one another. Simply texting or FaceTiming a friend to see what’s up went a long way. Seeing others post their struggles on social media was a sign that everyone was feeling drained together. The lockdown may have kept people physically apart, but has brought those who care closer together.
Importance of Spirituality
“Spiritual Wisdom is a shield that protects us from negative thoughts and actions.” — His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj
Personally, this has been one of the most important lessons for me. I get it, spirituality is not for everyone. But for me, it has been a part of my life for a long time. It wasn’t until the lockdown that I understood how much more I still had to learn and do on my spiritual journey. Each person has a unique and different spiritual path, however, when looking at others, I realized the importance of continuous growth. I’m not perfect, on the contrary far from it, but I am trying. Even a little growth is better than no growth.
As we reflect on the past ten months and are coming close to a year of COVID, I see that the most important value that we all learned is hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that the world can live in unity and harmony. Hope that we will get through this situation together.
I remember a specific episode from one of my favorite childhood TV shows, Arthur, where a poem from Emily Dickinson was said,
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.”