We live & learn

By Siba K Gogoi

The way of life can change like never before, for better or worse. But we need to accept life the way it presents itself. We can do this with the belief that we have it in us to get the best out of the worst. The journey of life never stops, come what may. Even when time seems to stop, life moves on leisurely in a world that is so familiar, yet so difficult at times. If we live and learn, we know life takes on different meanings for different individuals depending on the situations they encounter.
Here is the moment of truth for us — the time that tells us why we have to make a choice between life and living. It would be absurd to say we enjoy being locked down, but that’s the truth of life now. No sane person will ever imagine being an Alexander Selkirk, but there comes a time when we wittingly or unwittingly live the life the Royal Navy officer was made to go through after being marooned on a solitary island. It takes a human to understand why Selkirk was left pining for the warmth of the company of his nearest and dearest.
In a world that has been made to look smaller by the proliferation of the Internet or the mobile phone, we have invented newer ways of communicating with the people we know or even those we don’t know. Then, why do we have to bother to meet someone with whom we can talk about anything on the mobile phone? Now that social restrictions have been enforced to curb the spread of coronavirus, even state-of-the-art gadgetry, while being still useful, seems to have lost much of its apparent allurement.
The situation that we have found ourselves in makes many of us feel electronic devices may not be enough to keep human relationships going. Probably times like these offer us an opportunity to reflect on the workings of human behaviour and bonding. Tough times can also be a reality check on how we handle situations and to see if we can come out mellower and better equipped for the future.
When self-isolation or social distancing is the order of the day we have no option but to go with the flow. The lockdown has given us time to measure ourselves up in a seemingly unearthly environment. The outbreak of COVID-19 that has threatened to ravage the world reminds us that human life is more precious now. It’s the fear of death that makes us hold life dear.
If we do not lose hope in times of crisis, we may well have our moments when doing crystal-gazing. Here it would not be out of place to quote noted TV personality Oprah Winfrey: “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”
It is human nature to appreciate certain things in their absence or when they are lost. What have we missed or lost during this period of aching lockdown? Literally, we have everything we had before; still we miss some of the things which supplement our life because we cannot have them the way we would have liked. It may not be long before we run out of resources. It is all about making the most of the situation on hand, regardless of how bad it is.
In a normal situation we would have occasionally liked to eat healthy chicken stew or fish curry as family dinner. Now, with social restrictions in place, we can learn to live without meals that otherwise could be as delicious or sumptuous as those served in a five-star hotel.
Even potato curry might get tastier for those in the average income group, if not the moneyed class. Isn’t it, then, time we got tuned to a life of austerity or living without wasting money and resources? This, of course, does not mean being mean. Rather, it’s living within our means.
What are the things which make life worth living in the circumstances? A tricky question indeed.
There are so many shades of the meaning of life; in most cases it’s we who give meaning to life rather than cogitate on the purpose of life. Our likes and dislikes are naturally different and so are the ways in which we lead our life.
However, there are certain things that contribute to the universality of our existence. Boredom creeps into our life when we feel bound to stay indoors for an agonizingly longer period of time, away from even the quotidian societies outside the bounds of our homes. For some it may be like withdrawing into themselves, while for some it may be like fighting mental trauma. Still, there are some who are ready to take the bad with the good.
Reading a good book or watching a good movie can be balm for disturbed minds. If you are a music lover, you can take it easy listening to the songs you like the most. Gardening can be as good as a catharsis for those wishing to have a way with self-isolation. Maybe, the lockdown has taught us a thing or two about how to spend quality time with our children or families.
We are not sure how we will manage our finances in the days ahead because self-isolation or regulated social life also means job losses and limited economic activities that can easily affect a family’s budget. Not all can pick and choose as far as getting a job is concerned. In such a situation, it would not be a bad idea to start doing things that we did not like to do when there was no coronavirus in our midst.
Probably Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar recently led the way by giving his son Arjun a haircut, the video of which circulated on the social media, drawing warm responses from his fans.
Will life, after COVID-19, be the same as it was in the not-too-distant past? Maybe, we will have to learn to live with it; maybe not. There is no time like the present. It’s we who have to decide if we need to turn back the clock for the sake of the future.

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