Its raining outside. I can smell the petrichor, and feel the breeze through the open windows but I cannot hear the rain. I am wearing my headphones, listening to the ‘Is it New Wave‘ playlist on Spotify. I am reading an article about ‘The Art of Waiting’. I can suddenly hear the rain. The music has stopped, and there is a small gap before the next song starts. That microsecond instantly transports me to a different world. But back to reality. I am stuck at home in Hyderabad, India. The government has imposed a 21 day lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid 19. It is day 15 and reports say that this will inevitably be extended for another 2-3 weeks.
Social media has been flooded with a wide range content created by people stuck at home with nothing else to do. It becomes dull and repetitive to scroll. The news channels and bloggers are talking non stop about the spread of the disease, the symptoms and all sorts of nonsense that they confirm one day and reject the next. It is depressing to watch. Our editing work continues but that too will dry up soon. What then?
It is a time for guilt free rejuvenation. Never in the history of mankind have a few billion people been forced to stay with the four walls of their house. Suddenly everyone is an expert on self improvement, on cooking, on exercise and find it within their right to tell you how to live your life. Don’t let them. They are not an expert on YOU. If you feel like binge watching all day, then do it After fulfilling your household or work duties, of course. I personally find dish washing a great stress buster, and getting rid of a particularly stubborn stain is oddly satisfying. But I digress. Back to you. Read a book, listen to music or feel at ease to simply sit and stare. Learn to appreciate the little things in life, find beauty in the world around you, make a sketch or two, and don’t feel obliged to share it on social media.
Unplanned and unplugged time is a privilege in today’s world. We are constantly at odds with ourselves and society, trying to outdo one another and stay ahead of the crowd. There is no rest, nor relief in that game. It will never end. I always find ways to make time for office work. Because that leads to career growth, or so we are lead to believe. I will stay up all night to meet a deadline. That’s just the way I’ve always been. But rarely will I prioritize ‘me-time’. Because that doesn’t seemingly lead to anything. Infact, an idle mind can result in overthinking and unhealthy thoughts. It is a fine balance between wasting time and spending your free time productively.
Think of this as a forced vacation. Do the things that you always wanted to do but never had the time to do. For all my photographer friends, use this time to photograph your life, your house and yourself. Go look for inspiration on the World Press Photo Archive. Watch movies that are such masterpieces that they will make you cry. Control, directed by Anton Corbijn, had that effect on me, more than a decade ago. And shore up your finances. The times are going to get tough. The wedding industry may never be the same again. My friend Joshua has written an excellent blog post on that topic here.
Now, I am aware of the privilege that all of us have. This include you and me, for having access to secure shelter and full meals. There is a good part of our country that have been left in the lurch with this lockdown. The government is helping to feed them but there are also a large number NGOs and selfless individuals that have stepped in to provide food and supplies to them. Such acts of humanity help to restore my faith in society. I have donated to a few organizations and trying to help in my own way.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Enjoy this time. It is likely that our generation will never see anything like this again in our lifetimes. And don’t let the world make you feel guilty for binge watching ‘Breaking Bad’ for the third time.
Currently listening to – Public Image by Public Image Ltd
Currently reading – The Body by Bill Bryson
Currently watching – The Mandalorian on Hotstar