We find ourselves amidst a whirlwind of world-altering circumstances, severe health concerns and greatly challenged days. Lately, our buttons are being pushed beyond what many of us have experienced in our lifetime and many of us are responding from knee-jerk reaction. Often we catch ourselves in an unpleasant emotional state. We want to make sense of the world and our place in it. I, for sure, found myself in this space during this time and everything seems a bit much. The key is to acknowledge our urge to react and to hold it at arms-length. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We may not be able to change the external circumstances but you can transform the way you feel and respond to what’s happening. This can but only help us to figure out how to comprehend our chaotic world.
Some of us have no fear of heights and others like me have to build up the nerve at the sight or thought of high places. I’m thinking of this and having a good chuckle at myself. I am looking at a picture of myself, sitting on top of a cliff, pretending to take in the spectacular view. I remember getting up there feeling the discomfort of fear and eventually calmed myself down as I soaked in the beauty of the magnificent gorge. This adventure was a challenge for me, but the amazing views and the sense of achievement was my reward for overcoming fear, even if only for that moment. As Prasad Mahes said, “The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear.”
Throughout this period, we are constantly bombarded with the impact that Covid-19 has had on the whole world and for some of us it has been devastatingly close to home. Pondering on the impact I also wanted to get a personal perspective from someone that contracted the virus. The following story was graciously provided by Hansel and Gretel (pseudonyms) as told by Gretel:
Wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and frequently washing our hands may help limit the transmission of the pandemic. What are we doing to prevent the virus affecting our mental state? It’s normal to experience traumatic stress, anxiety and depression following such disturbing events. It is not necessarily limited to the people who are directly affected by the event. We’re all flooded with horrific images of tragedy, suffering, and loss almost the instant they occur anywhere in the world. We all react differently to these events but it is important to acknowledge our emotions and feelings in order to regain control of our lives.
By now I am sure that many of us has seen iconic buildings lit up in red to bring attention to the plight of the live events industry #LightSAred campaign. The live events industry range from artists to freelancers, theatres and venues, equipment suppliers and various companies and businesses that have been unable to work since the blanket ban on all events due to the Coronavirus. Similar initiatives have successfully taken place across the world where buildings, monuments, landmarks, structures and empty theatres have been illuminated in “Emergency Red” to highlight the enormous challenges facing live events, music and performing art sectors.
It’s winter, it’s cold, we are in lockdown and now we also have power interruptions also known as load-shedding. Load shedding plus lockdown is enough to drive anyone crazy. I found myself humming the tune of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” a song performed by Ricky Martin. La vida loca is Spanish for “the crazy life.” I have been spending lockdown days with my girls, watching all the episodes of Avatar. I love the uplifting words of the opening sequence of the Avatar that we (myself and my girls) would all rush to say at the start of an episode: “I believe Aang can save the world.” I wish we had a Aang that can save the world. See what I mean, crazy, right?
The famous show business phrase, “The show must go on” is proving to be true amid the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa. As I read this in the Sandton Chronicle, it hits a chord, life needs to continue. We are alive and we need to continue living in this world. These are difficult times and it is almost impossible not to be overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. I also read the following on a university site: “We need to keep clear heads and firm resolve to weather this storm. We need to take control and invoke that old adage: Keep calm and carry on. Let us work together for the greater good in this time of need.” I have come across numerous messages of encouragement, some funny ones too, like keep calm and carry on at least 2 meters away from each other… I know the purpose of these messages is to inspire and to uplift us in this time, yet I know everything is also easier said than done.
Nowadays we have more doubts, lockdown doubts, affecting our thoughts and actions as the virus impacts our lives. Thoughts crossing our minds: Did government make the right decisions by enforcing lockdown? As a parent do I send my child to school? Do I choose education over health? Do I continue working or operating my business or do I cut my losses and probably the most daunting one of all, am I making the right decision? The balance is a tricky one and no matter what, you are accountable for whatever decision you take. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t! This idiom is now more widely uttered, especially as we find ourselves in the midst of emotional, financial, social, spiritual adversity, just to name a few, and having to make decisions forced on us by the pandemic. Often, I feel that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place with these difficult situations having increased tremendously during this time.
When the fatal pandemic surfaced, it brought our entire world to an abrupt holt. We had to adapt our daily lives under the Covid-19 inspired lockdown and social distancing had to be maintained. It changed the way we went about our daily routines and it affected the manner in which households normally operated. I was concerned for my children, my husband, my family and friends and wondered how we were to survive and cope in these unprecedented days.