We grew up being told that the world is a dangerous place. Now we are literally living it. We are fighting an invincible enemy that seems to be always several steps ahead, COVID19. An acquittance recently told me that his 84-year-old mzungu pal in the UK confirmed to him that the last time the world was on lockdown was way back during the second world war. He was just a small boy then, but he remembers total blackouts in his neighborhood. All the lights would be switched off in his town at night to make it harder for the German planes to locate their targets. Dropping bombs at night on English soil was a common strategy.
Today we are fighting an enemy that attacks both during the day and night, whether we have lights on or not. South Africa is the first African country to go on lock down. I believe it’s just a matter of time before we here in Kenya get locked up too, in our own homes.
But isn’t it funny how every crisis has a silver lining? For instance, I am now discovering that being a schoolteacher can be my side hustle. I have been home (well in my office) schooling my baby sharks. I’m amused though at how we parents seem to be struggling more than our kids with this online learning. My older girl is teaching me more than what I’m teaching her. We have taken it in stride and are making the best out of the situation. At least we are now giving our children all the attention they need. To kids quality time is quantity time.
Another positive observation is the increased number of folks I see exercising on the roadside sidewalks in our neighborhood. People are walking and running more and driving less. it’s a welcome change from the traffic and hustle of the fast-paced city life. Globally the positive effect is being seen too. Mother nature seems to be healing slowly from the harm that human activity causes her. Apparently in China the smog is clearing thanks to reduced manufacturing activity. May we come out of this pandemic with a greater appreciation for mother nature.
However, something not so positive has picked my interest too. I have come across several articles talking about all the things that could go wrong as a result of being isolated at home. Lately mental health issues have been getting quite some airtime way before we knew about this monster virus. Dr Eunice Githae advises us to talk to someone if we feel terrified, empty, hopeless and worthless. These are creeping signs of depression that may manifest sooner now that we are in self isolation.
My mind has been planning on all the things I can do during this downtime. The rat race of life has been put on pause to allow me to catch up with all my tasks and responsibilities. This should make me better prepared when normal service resumes. So, folks just be cleaning house in the meantime.
This global lockdown is showing that maybe we appear busier than we actually are. Could it be to avoid looking inwards and having a meeting with self? Could it be that most of the busyness we have in our lives is driven by fear of facing our demons? a more lethal virus that could be dwelling in us. And that for as long as we are busy in the rat race, we are distracted from facing the elephants (sometimes it feels more like a herd) in the room.
Suddenly we have time on our hands, lots of it. The elephant is now eyeballing us and that makes us very uneasy. What makes this situation extremely uncomfortable is because many of us have no coping mechanisms to address the viruses lodged deep in our hearts and minds. We will need more than heart and mind sanitizer for this one. We need to go deep, feel and face the issues that make us behave the way we do (whatever they may be), and thereafter swallow the bitter capsule of intense but necessary conversations that have been pending for a long time.
Some of the people we have been running (avoiding in the name of we are too busy to meet) away from are now our cellmates in the current lockdown. Rumor has it that the lockdown may last a month. Now that’s a lifetime trying to ignore stuff that needs our attention. Being ill equipped and terribly uncomfortable to clean house internally could easily contribute to mental illness and depression.
Folks in the spirit of remaining positive about life during the current depressing times, I have chosen to take this as a time to clean house both relationally and physically. Remove the clutter by re- evaluating my priorities, relationships and pressing the reset button so as to travel lighter and be more effective going forward.
Let’s try our best to keep fear at bay and not to worry too much. Spend this forced leave mending (and building new) bridges because you will need them to cross over into your destiny when life gets back to normal. The Good book even counsels us in Matthew 5: 8, “You’re blest when you get your inside world- your mind and heart- put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
May we all come out of this pandemic as better humans. It is well good people. This too shall pass.