Deep breathe, start the next phase. Lockdown 4.0 begins today. It has been extended for another fifteen days. Social, psychological and economic unravelling that has happened in these days is remarkable. In outdoor sports and adventure, we tend to deliberately seek adversity and experience hardship to push our limits of enduring the conditions. There is significant psychological stress involved in those activities. We emerge and cry ourselves red on the finish lines. The lockdown has subjected us to significant distress – physical, psychological and for many, financial also. Weren’t those adventures out in the world supposed to prepare us for life? Instead, what we see is that the lockdown has tested every aspect of our existence and the situation doesn’t look promising. Looking at this contrast between our curated life and life in pandemic, the difference appears to be about control. The pandemic and lockdowns are beyond our control. They are even beyond our ability to predict what follows next. This is unsettling the planet in ways that we haven’t seen before. Ideally, we would have welcomed an app that could monitor and control our hardships also.
Everyday, we locate ourselves somewhere along the continuum of personal to universal and worry about the state of affairs. Some days it is how the virus is ripping through a new country (Brazil is fourth in the world now) and some evenings about the collapsing social world around us. It pushes further into our lives with the pandemic taking a few stabs at personal lives – families under stress, some splitting some resigning into spaces of houses crammed with misery already.
On days we brood the universal, we think of the inequities in the world – national, international and within our own cities. ‘So, be alive to one another’s struggles.’ President Obama said, concluding his address to graduates. How does one stay alive? We have had years of schooling and conditioning into thinking about ourselves, getting ahead in life, achieving something. This amotimised life now seeks human touch – a hug, a real palm, a pat. Swiping screens the society has come down way far down where it now feels hazardous to imagine reaching out, send messages, check if things are alright. To write from a place of concern no longer seems a natural thing to do. Will we be admitting to our failures?
For a hundred webinars floating around to discuss a variety of economic issues, there exists one to speak of our anger, disappointments, crashed hopes, postponed dreams and the surge of emotions that each day of the lockdown brings along. It is not okay to be personal, we tell ourselves, even as we are beaming ourselves live on a video conference call to our colleagues from our bedrooms.
The crisis in human values is unravelling itself. No one on this planet today remains untouched by the effects of the pandemic. To the very least, they have submitted themselves to social distancing. So, when do we begin admitting that we fucked up? That we need to start again, if spared by the pandemic.