I’ve been working from home for seven years now, so when the Philippine government announced a month-long community quarantine beginning March 15, my first thought was, “Pfft, I do lockdowns like a pro,” followed by “I’m an introvert; I invented social distancing,” and finally, “We’re going to need a huge supply of food, toiletries and donuts.”
Three weeks later, we all know what happened here: 3,018 COVID-19 cases, 136 deaths, and thousands more under investigation or monitoring, many of them dying without even being tested because hey, VIPs first, then their families, and then their staff, right? It has become clear that this new coronavirus is serious (even if many elected officials are not). Health care systems are collapsing even in the most advanced countries; people are losing jobs and losing hope; families don’t get to see or hold loved-ones on their death beds, receiving them only as ashes later on; and tensions are high everywhere, especially on social media. People are beginning to wonder: will this be the new normal?
To keep me sane in these insane times, I took out my planner–which is now devoid of plans–and jotted down lessons I learned or re-learned during this time of mandated semi-isolation:
- Where you place your faith determines how you face your fears.
- Character is quickly revealed in crises and in confined spaces. It’s easy to spot who care only about themselves and who are good humans.
- Your privilege is not your fault. Being blind and apathetic to the plight of others because of that privilege–that’s on you.
- Prayer gets you through the hardest times.
- There is always something you can do to help. Always.
- Social media has a powerful effect on your mental and emotional states. But you can always switch it off; you won’t die without it.
- The principle is that you reap what you sow. In a democracy though, you reap what the majority has sown. If enough people vote wrong, you can’t expect things to go right.
- Common sense truly is not common. I don’t know why they even call it that.
- There are good people out there, just as there are monsters. You usually find what you look for.
- Some jobs are done out of commitment, some out of need. Either way, appreciate the people who keep you alive just by going to work.
- You cannot be positive all the time. Some situations require your indignation, your criticism and your action.
- Complain if you must, but change what you can. Don’t just stay in a place of negativity and disillusionment.
- It is your duty as a Filipino and as a Christian to raise your voice against injustice, greed, oppression and corruption. I will never understand religions or churches that stay silent in evil times.
- Blessed are the prepared, but more blessed are the rich and well connected.
- Death is the only true equalizer. In this life, everything is skewed against the poor.
- Your relationships are the most important thing, not your job or your money or your hobbies.
- Choose your spouses and roommates wisely. It’s punishment to have to live with people you don’t like.
- We all have the same 24 hours. How we spend it defines our lives, and therein lies the difference.
- Unencumbered by worldly pursuits, we rediscover our true treasures at home: family, memories, and the value of laughter and shared meals (no gadgets on the table, please)
- Parents, this is a golden opportunity to love and teach and get to know your children. Someday, they may not remember the virus or the lockdown, but they will remember what you did together that one time you were forced to stay at home.
- Many situations can improve with perspective.
- Spend quiet time alone, preferably in the morning, just to get to know yourself. Let your soul converse with God.
- Learn something. It will direct your mind away from stressful thoughts. Idle minds are the devil’s playground.
- It would be too optimistic to call this a reset button but it is, inarguably, a good time to re-evaluate how we live, where we spend our time, how much we consume, what we pursue, how we treat others, how little we care about our health or planet, and what we need to change.
- It’s okay to do nothing once in a while. Even God rested.