On days that I do not make notes through the day a summary by the end of it becomes a tedious task. With a slowed pace at work and in personal life it gets even more difficult to make a journal entry without referring to news of the day or to articles I have been reading. We are on the forty eighth day of the lockdown. Already the conversations have moved to discussing the exit and what would life look like when we reconnect to everything outside our house. The WHO dashboard indicates 4.05 million confirmed cases and 281,736 deaths worldwide. India has lost 2,293 lives to Covid-19. Our town, Wardha, saw one death today. The district was coronavirus-free until this week.
Time spent on reading books has gone up substantially. This was a direct consequence of thee lockdown. I went down several rabbit holes of thinking and pondering over events, people, professional life and sports. Invariably, they ended with a realisation of how much more one can do in life and how little have been done. Where did the remaining time go? That is a hard one to figure. I connected with people I spoke less to earlier. I strengthened some routines that I want to keep for years ahead. I looked out for people I want to be with. I re-evaluated all that could be done better or needs to be done and which haven’t been done yet. I made lists of things to do – on the farm, at work, in education, in places to see and activities to do.
These inventories are a summary of the lockdown. On the lockdown days someone said, ‘It is not a productivity contest. Some folks turned even this lockdown into a rat race!’. I recognize what it is to lack a drive to even maintain a minimum level of activity and get through days without feeling lost and confused. On the other end of this state is the rat race – an all consuming drive to achieve, to hit those markers of success and a drive to also have a lot to show for one’s effort. If we can learn to exist somewhere along the halfway point on this spectrum, maybe, it would amount to a life well lived. This will not be a life without hurt, pain, losing loved ones, disappointments etc. Instead, it will have all of these while ensuring that optimism and zeal to step ahead remains unaffected.
I began making inventories from the lockdown days because I wanted to see if I indeed went down a rat race of productivity. It helped me to see that these days have made me better. With a list of things that I did, I could see the specifics of what that ‘better’ meant. A few values also showed up on the inventory. Values that I gained a renewed appreciation for and desire to hold for life – kindness, patience, faith in the force of good, forgiveness and importance of living with nature. The values inventory is likely to get revised, but the start for years ahead is with these. Looking back, I do not think I believed in any of these. The past weeks have made me reflect on them in a way that I almost felt cornered by them.
I must not forget to add that I have been incredibly privileged to have spent the depths of the lockdown without feeling threatened with uncertainty or having incurred losses of any kind, not having found myself left abandoned and shelterless as it began. In any part of the world right now, this is a fortunate thing. All the talk of values and learnings happens on a full belly and a self that feels safe.
The days ahead are also uncertain. But the initial fear seems to have passed. The threat of the virus and infection remains. However, after nearly seven weeks we have come to think of resuming our lives despite this threat.
With my inventories I look forward to stepping of the house hoping that after this deep pause I will not squander away time and make the most in these uncertain times.