Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Hidden Perks Of Isolation

April Fool's Day was supposed to be the day Malaysians would emerge from our caves and catch sunlight in our faces once more.

Well, that won't be happening, after all. 

The partial lockdown has been extended for a further 14 days. And at the rate the Covid-19 has spiked up across the world, there's a high chance of a further extension until May...

Still no reason to panic, though. It's not WW3. We have survived worse emergencies. It's not an alien invasion. Our brilliant scientists will find a cure or vaccine in a matter of time.

So while our medical frontliners do all the heavy-lifting at the trenches, all the rest of us have to do is sit at home, and do nothing - how hard is that?

Keep calm and do nothing

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

* * *

Of course, even the laziest among us have difficulties doing nothing for too long. Boredom sets in. Our feet and hands get itchy. We get restless.

So aside from cooking and chores, we need to focus our energies onto something.

But what is that something?

Now's the best time to do what you always wanted to do but keep procrastinating and pretending you don't have time.

Write poetry.

Paint pictures.

Sing covers.

Whatever floats your boat. Just get your creative juices flowing. No more excuses now. Work has slowed to a trickle, and even the most bureaucratic of bosses has probably run out of ideas to call for team meetings by now...

We all have plenty of free time. And as a wise man once said:

Don't let your dreams, be dreams!


* * *

Now's the perfect time for some self-reflection, too.

We can't really mix and mingle freely. We need to keep our distance. We have more time with our imagination.

Reminisce your fondest memories.

Take stock of your present state of contentment.

Look beyond into the distant future.

In our busy everyday lives, we are often overwhelmed by a never-ending stream of responsibilities - professionally and socially. It's hard to take a pause, stare out the window, and think to ourselves...

Is this the life I have envisaged for myself?

Am I liking the direction that my life is taking?

Is there a fork in the road ahead that requires some hard choices?

In moments of solitude, we are free from external pressure. Of course, that's not to say life-changing decisions should be made arbitrarily without regard to the interests and feelings of other people, especially our family and friends. No man (or woman) is an island.

Still, sometimes, we need to detach from the world outside to get in touch with the world within us.

* * *

Of course, most of us are forced into isolation not by choice.

But perhaps, once this terrible scourge is over, isolation can turn into a habit - and a good habit, it is.

Your heart says hello.

Take a moment - as long as you need - to check out how it's doing.

It's time to get to know yourself better.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

14 Days Of Partial Lockdown (And Counting)

Today will be the 4th day of the partial lockdown imposed by the Malaysian government since 18 March 2020, in order to stem the nationwide spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

The past 3 days have been rather uneventful. Aside from being stuck in home and watching shelves in supermarkets emptying with a mixture of bemusement and mild annoyance, nothing much seems to have changed.

Of course, that's because I lead a relatively uneventful life to begin with. I'm not really missing out on anything I do on a daily basis that I really can't live without. 

All in all, life goes on...

Work from bed

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

* * *

The biggest change, of course, is work.

I'm forced to work from home (not that I'm complaining).

Or rather, I'm prohibited from going into office - now, this is slightly tricky, because my line of work involves some degree of face-to-face meeting.

But difficult times call for contingency measures. Circumstances change every passing day. Adaptability is critical.

Perhaps the most frustrating part is projects and events being cancelled or suspended indefinitely. Months of work down the drain in a snap of a finger. Plans after plans being made redundant as conditions worsen and restrictions tighten.

Work is truly a whirlwind...

* * *

The second other change is the social media toxicity.

That's the inevitable consequence of people being stuck at home and having more free time on their hands.

And predictably 80-90% of talk revolves around the Covid-19 pandemic - or more specifically, the endless stream of complaints and criticisms.

"Why is the government doing this?"

"Why is the government doing nothing?

"Why is the government changing plans?"

The pandemic is unprecedented. It's natural for governments to struggle, to make mistakes, to err at the side of caution.

Amazingly, there's a sudden surge of 'experts'. You know what? If you're so smart, why not submit your action plan to government? Why not form a special task force of like-minded experts? Why not volunteer to help the front-line?

Oh wait, you're special, we need to keep your brain safe and fingers sharp to keep continue saving the world through social media...

Here's the brutal truth about humanity - we're more toxic than any virus can be.

* * *

In The Matrix, Agent Smith delivers this chilling revelation:
"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus."

Stop hoarding. Stop whining. Stop spreading toxicity.

Keep calm. Keep working. Keep faith in humanity.

Hopefully, on 1 April - at the time of my next writing - the sun will shine brightly again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Keep Calm And Don't Spread Hate Like A Coronavirus

Since the start of 2020, the Covid-19 viral infection has cast a pall of fear all over the world.

The Hubei province of China is in lock-down. Italy has followed suit. New cases and deaths are rising at an alarming rate in South Korea and Iran. Elsewhere, governments remain vigilant. Companies are drastically cutting down on international travel and conferences. Those in recent contact with infected patients prudently resort to self-quarantine.

The root cause of the disease remains unknown. No vaccine has been discovered. Some experts fear that symptoms only develop days after infection, hence increasing the risk of unsuspecting carriers passing on the virus. Fake news continually exacerbate public panic.

Worse of all, the disease has stoked the ugly side of humanity...

Keep calm and self-quarantine

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

* * *

Some people that I know of have been tested as positive, or under quarantine pending results.

I feel their pain and suffering. I wish them all a safe recovery.

It is natural for rumours of them being infected to spread around like wildfire in private chat groups. Some have expressed concern and sympathy.

But to my utmost horror and disgust, the word 'karma' has been bandied about. Some have welcomed such rumours with glee.

Seriously, how sick is that?

It's fine to dislike other people. It's fine to feel vindicated when karmic justice is served in a narrow sense. It's fine to revel in our enemies' defeat.

But to wish ill will upon a person?

I'm sorry, that just crosses the line. People catching virulent diseases has nothing to do with 'karma'. It's one thing to wish for someone to get caught and punished for a wrongdoing they committed (karma). It's quite another to wish for that someone and his whole family to catch cancer (curse).

Sickening, absolutely sickening...

* * *

In The Dark Knight, the Joker delivers this chilling monologue to Batman:
"You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble... When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other."

I want to believe the Joker is wrong. I want to believe in the ultimate good in humanity. I want to believe that humans will stand for each other in the face of a common adversity.

But this Covid-19 phenomenon has cut deeply into my faith.

On the bright side, I now know how despicable some people I know can be. I don't need such negativity in my life. I better stay away from them like a plague.

In time, this wretched Covid-19 plague too will pass.

Till then, let us keep calm, stay positive, and spread the love...