In praise of the lockdown

In April 2020 just when the Lockdown had started, I wrote a blog entitled A Crisis too Precious to Waste (https://vikasshirodkar.blog/2020/04/09/a-crisis-too-precious-to-waste/) wherein I argued that there can be many learnings, many positive outcomes of the Lockdown….if we keep our minds open and learn.

10 months after that, I sit to express my gratitude for situations we all faced! Were it not for the Pandemic and the consequent Lockdown, I would have been a different person: more arrogant, more self-centered, a much poorer version of what I am today! Indeed, it was a crisis too precious to waste!! And I am grateful that I experienced it and became all the more strong, physically as well as psychologically! Lockdown taught me new skills and capabilities, a fresh perspective of looking at life, and so many other positives outcomes that I can truly say that I come here to praise the Lockdown, and thank the circumstances it brought into my life. The rest of the blog I will enumerate and illustrate all that we have to thankful for.

Numero Uno will always be the family and friends: the people who make our world go round. The forced isolation brought the family closer. Whether the family members were co-located in a house, in the same housing society, in the same town, state or country….regardless, family members closed ranks and were available to one another. The sense of imminent loss cemented relationships & brought everyone closer. More frequent interactions and more emotional bonding were the bedrock which defined a new cadence of reaching back and forth, taking relationships to new heights. Due to this, the value of friends and family got recalibrated. Phone conversations became deeper and more fun. And if by chance you got a chance to meet in person, each of those occasions were looked up to and acquired a touch of celebration. I still remember with goose bumps, when our front doorbell rang for the first time in months. Sheer joy! & the thrill repeats even now, as the visitors are so few and far between. Who could say that the sound of a doorbell would be so much valued! Literally on a meeting by meeting basis, day by day basis I saw that Life is Good!

That was on the social front, but the benefits of Lockdown on the personal front were much deeper and wide ranging. Firstly, the sheer ennui and boredom, brought on a spate of reading, learning and in other ways enriching myself. Time hung on hands, so doing something was imperative. Suddenly curling in the bed and relaxing was anathema. You wanted to fill available time with action. I must have attended 100s of webinars & TED talks and also ran my share of webinars & talks for my normal audiences like management schools, but also diversified into clubs & other social groups. Suddenly, one was more busy and engaged than ever before. And when you got a break from the round- robin of facing screens, you turned the focus inward and faced yourself! Boy was that fun!!

The 20 minutes 2ce a day meditations became nearly continuous. Mindfulness was the name of the game. Being connected, remaining in the present, looking at the river of time flowing by made you naturally introspective and one emerged with many, many gems from the riverbed. To recount the most precious jewels I gleaned: suddenly I realized I can do much more than what I had thought possible. Whether it was the humdrum tasks of washing utensils and sweeping & swabbing the house or the more esoteric finishing a book a day : all acquired the sheen of gaming. You were constantly challenging yourself: and emerging a winner. Yes I discovered I was made of sterner stuff than I had imagined. I am not the spoilt, pampered, rich brat but I am a Force. In a unique way, even the opposite was equally true. I realized that one can do with so much less. The irrelevant needs and desires got pared down and basic things gave the same or more joy! I can, I will, & I did!

As you can see, self-love peaked. Earlier, I had held myself in poor esteem. Felt I have never struggled or stretched. Never gave myself much credit. But here I was learning and growing daily, happy and happier as days went by. Besides adding self-sufficiency to my repertoire I became a much more grateful human being. Things I used to always take for granted: a roof over my head, a soft clean bed, no concern of where is the next meal coming from, a loving family to care and cherish me, friends who called and enquired if I needed anything, even clients who were extending their resources and hands for help : I re-evaluated all and I realized I am indeed privileged. Regularly I recounted the hundred odd things I need to be grateful for.

All these ruminations had the spin-off, off-label benefits of bringing in humility alongwith the contentment. So many times I realized I have NOTHING to ask for and EVERYTHING to be thankful for. Just a brief phone call from my daughter was the new definition of happiness. Happiness truly acquired different dimensions: a sister calling to say she misses me; an octogenarian uncle making a videocall to sing a song; my bro-in-law creating a homeopathic concoction which has kept us safe & healthy; being served my favorite dessert of Bhappa Doi on my birthday; my wife, despite all the constraints, trying to make innovative & interesting meals day after day. Days turned to months and months too dragged on, but “what is happiness?” transmuted its core and became simpler, and more longer lasting, as the days rolled by. I am sure this simpler, changed definition of happiness will remain unchanged in the new normal! Indeed I have changed, & the pot of happiness has got entrenched deep in my heart. Now I do not have to chase the rainbow outside! Having always been an introverted loner, I have had the advantage of re-evaluating loneliness and coming to terms with what I am and what I really want. Another gift which I had not asked for, but I got from Lockdown.

But then Man is a social animal. As the lockdown rules ease and we struggle to come to terms with the new normal, I am also learning new ways of working. Collaboration takes on a new meaning in the remote and virtual world. Experiential trainers like me have to master newer technological solutions available today to create the magic of virtual teaming. Mutual dependency and working together in this new world, under the new rules, will call for radically different skills which we had developed in the past….yet another chance to learn afresh & master newer areas. I have no doubt that Camaraderie and Brotherhood of Man will take center stage, and with the new tools and techniques we will continue to march forward. As we prepare to do that, let us look back on the Lockdown as a positive interlude, a subterfuge created for us to revalue all that we have, and all that we do, so that we go forward into the New World with vigor, confidence and an indomitable spirit with our new learnings!

Indeed I have a lot to thank the Lockdown for.

Guruvarya Lockdown Namah !!! vikas