The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails
William Arthur Ward
Are you the pessimist complaining about the situation – the virus, the government’s response, the inaction? Are you the optimist hoping for the day when the cure or vaccine comes? Or are you the person navigating the rough waters of this situation we all find ourselves in trying to find the smoothest seas?
I can almost positively say that I hope that I have been that realist sailing the seas the best way I could. With a healthy degree of humour and a sound amount of common sense. I guess you could say that I am a realist.
But what have I learned about myself during this time when all of us became shackled by duty or social responsibility to perform essential jobs or take the inconceivable simple task of just staying within the four walls of our homes?
When this all kicked off back in March, I made three suggestions to myself – the first was to turn the sofa towards the window so that I would always be looking at the outside.
It was a simple solution but it gave my mind alone a reminder that the outside was always available and though the virus lockdown took my freedom, it did not take my awareness or the clouds in the sky, the wind blowing through the trees or the sound of the sparrows fighting with themselves in the branches outside the window. And so now the sofa still sits there – a window not to electronic entertainment but a window to a world of nature and landscape, of light and dark.
The other two suggestions were and continue to be interlinked. I simply decided to give myself a very loose timetable to the day with suggested times to eat, to work, to exercise and to entertain. And by God that routine helped enormously – mostly in part down to the physical exercise of my body and the mental training of my mind whilst partaking in the wonder of the ‘at-home yoga’.
But as I said the routine was interlinked with something incredibly simple. And that was to simply slow down. Or to use my vernacular – to ‘slow the **** down’.
When your life becomes a simple array of decisions, it was quite clear that rushing or pushing to complete daily or weekly tasks was just plain wrong. By slowing down, actions and movements were defined choices played out to the very best of my mental or physical abilities. I accepted the outcomes that I made. With no inner criticism. No complaints. Because survival in this most inconceivable of battles was always going to be improved by focusing on the most simple of comprehensions. To be active. To eat. To sleep. To think. To engage with the process was and continues to be a victory, worthy of a prize.
Crises always make life seem incredibly simple. And everything else – well becomes irrelevant. And that seems true here… but what have I learned about myself?
I’d like to think that I am more resilient or maybe that I have shown myself that I have that ability already. I’d like to think that I have taken this time to have a better sense of myself. That focusing on a healthy mind and a healthy body has been a reminder that a healthy spirit also needs focus. A sense of self. A sense of purpose. A sense of innate feeling that me, myself and I are not subservient to you, yourselves or them. But also that care, empathy and support are all the best things we can all aspire to show.
Care for one another. Empathy to understand even when we do not share the same philosophies. And support to guide and strengthen those who are in our lives and whose futures we all want so desperately to protect in this moment of our lives.
I am a realist and I believe that in all circumstances, the right way is to bend with the wind and let it blow us where it may. For it gives us the chance to begin again. Not broken. Not torn apart. But a little out of place. In a starting point that may be many hundreds of miles from where we began our journey.
And so as I began, I end with a quote:
Be willing to walk alone. Many who started with you, won't finish with you.
This is the cost of life. So, appreciate those who are around you when this storm dies down, I will. At the end of it all, truth and the sense of truth will be one of the clearest senses of all. You will remember those who stood with you as the rains came and the wind lashed your sheets. And you will perhaps also remember those who did not or who would not.
Emergency pandemics have a funny way of doing that – bringing clarity, truth and a fundamental sense of who you are as a human being. And it really is up to you then when you make land, whether that new world allows you to continue your life or creates an opportunity for new beginnings or just different ones.