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

18 Replies to “In praise of the lockdown”

  1. VS

    Different people respond differently to the life events.

    There are many who get disheartened and depressed in face of a crisis situation. There are others like you, who try to ‘discover’ hidden benefits in an outwardly challenging event.

    And in your case the response was not an afterthought. As your blog immediately after the Lockdown showed (aptly titiled..’crisis too precious to waste’), you had already positioned yourself mentally to not allow this period of lockdown to be frittered away. And the areas where you have been benefitted through this period, show that you have lived up to that resolve!! Truly remarkable ..and inspiring!

    This period has awakened us to certain realities and broken several myths in the process. In March 2020, could anyone imagine the life in Mumbai without its lifeline..the local trains? There have ,of course, been huge hardships for people ..but many have found ways out of it. The way the Government has gone about distributing free rations for months together to almost 800 million people ,reaching remote corners of the country, has no parallel in the world. People have stretched themselves far beyond they thought they were capable of.

    Thus,the feeling of gratitude is seen on many fronts. In my personal case also , there have been so many aspects in which I feel grateful. My ‘internal’ journey, through meditation ,got a further fillip. My son and daughter in law , in London, consider this “Work from Home” as a great blessing as they are able to spend time with their son, who was just 6 months in the beginning of the lockdown. They could never have imagined being so close to him during this very crucial and highly enjoyable phase of the child’s development!

    As they say ..’the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’ …On similar lines, “Gratitude is in the minds of those who have the habit to see the glass as HALF FULL”

    Thanks for this very inspiring blog

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    1. Jagdish bhai
      at the outset, regret my delay in responding to your comment.
      I was suddenly very over stretched on the professional front and so could not get back to my personal agenda
      Had kept replying to you back as I wanted t make a reasoned reply, given your serious demeanor
      I realize often I am too flippant and impromptu, and so I am also trying to change my bad habits.
      so here goes

      Yes indeed I had decicided this forced isolation and inactivity will not affect me
      I realize this is a mind game largely, and you are as strong as you believe you are.
      Writing the blogs Crisis too precious etc ) also helped me stay positive and proclaim to the world my stance
      Not that I did not have my low moments, depression, dis satisfaction & what not.
      But walking, working, writing kept my senses.
      Thanks for acknowledging that and seeing the entire sequence
      Most others only react to the present blog but you have seen the larger linkages

      Very glad to hear about your positive experiences on the personal as well as the family front.
      A child growing up is one of the best Miracles which proves that Life Loves Us and wants us to be happy
      The initial growing up brings milestones daily and it is indeed great to enjoy that period. Lucky your grandson could have not only his parents, but their parents also around

      Trains stopping, no Traffic on roads, All content in their homes…..all unique experiences, possibly first time events in the life of Mumbaikars
      I always admire the resilience of the populace who adapt and cope, come what may
      That to me was the BIGGEST lesson of COVID….we can, we will and we shall overcome
      as a student of human behavior, much learning and joy
      Look FW to the recovery phase now with its own stories of heroism
      vikas

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  2. Hi Vikas,
    You have beautifully described your experiences during the pandemic days.
    We all had a time of our own during the lockdown and indulged in different activities basically because of no social activity. My efforts were directed towards contacting my lost classmates of my school. I discovered them through their phone numbers and made contacts. We dug at each other remembering some of the funny incidents long forgotten. I returned to my childhood again.

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    1. SD
      truly the Lockdown created the GIFT of TIME for all of us. We could truly indulge ourselves and were not held back by the constant refrain of being “busy”. Except for the physical distance separating us from our loved ones, really one has no regrets and I would not exchange the last 10 months with anything

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  3. Great Sir. This piece is like the concluding part of a ‘trilogy’. You had highlighted on the possibilities when you wrote “Indeed, it was a crisis too precious to waste” at the start of the crisis and now you had thrown lights on the realization part at the most appropriate time when we shall be celebrating it’s 1st anniversary sometime in March. The common thread throughout this journey remains the great force of your nonchalant positivism which enthused me personally to explore happiness in its’ new avatar. Never thought before like that of discovering gratefulness and acknowledging to be thankful for the smallest degree of possessions/fulfillment/achievement could make you so happy and fulfilled. So true that ‘one can do with so much less’ is the one sentence that triggers many different avenues in your think-line. Thank you so much.

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    1. Kabir many thanks for your kind and encouraging words
      When I wrote the first piece in April last year, I hardly knew that I was echoing words of the great Winston Churchill in the title. He spoke similarly of the WW II.
      For us it was no different from a war: at different levels, emotional, physical, social, and for some people even financial. But now as we see some relaxing of the strict norms and some light at the end of the tunnel, it is indeed time for celebration: look back, reflect, learn and go FW with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.
      As re positivity, I feel what you cannot cure you must endure: and then why do it gridgingly: might as well make the most of it and enjoy.
      I am fortunate I find resonance in family and friends like you
      Every day and Every way, we are getting BETTTER & BETTER
      take care
      much love
      vikas

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  4. A much needed piece Vikas Mama. Can’t believe that it will be a year soon since the Lockdown was announced but like you have pointed out, the lessons that the Lockdown has taught us are truly life changing. Very thought provoking article.

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    1. Thanks Mimi
      there is always so much to gain, so much to learn: if only we see our experiences in the right perspective
      The doors of Heaven are opening, and we all will walk hand in hand over the horizon to a brave, new world of possibilities
      See you on the other side, my dear
      vikas

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    1. True Jayant, we got a chance to relook and re-evaluate much in our life
      Finally we are social beings and am sure we will emerge stronger in the process
      Anti Fragile, as Nissim Taleb has called it
      challenges will make us stronger

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  5. Excellent post, Vikas dada! The part about self-love totally resonated with me. The lockdown affected everyone in unique ways; each of us had our own battle to fight whether or not there was any Covid +ve case in the home. As the world is slowly opening up, its heartening to meet or see faces that were lost to us for months. An important point to remember here is that though their faces might be the same as we remember, their internal landscape has undergone a drastic change (as has ours and that of our immediate families). It is indeed a fortunate wake up call each of us received and those who were able to take away something epiphanic will be forever grateful.

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    1. Neelu, thanks dear for your words of praise.
      After passing through this baptism of fire ( need and greed all getting topsy turvy) if some one emerges without learning then fie on him
      This lockdown afforded a great opportunity to recalibrate and reprioritize everything in our lives
      As a student of human behaviour I am really looking FW to see who and how many carry fw these learning and change for the “better” and how many lapse back to their pre-Covid routine
      Indeed for people like you and me, it is this gift which is invaluable
      Enjoy & Stay well

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  6. Very true Vikas dada.
    Lockdown has given opportunity to Rethink, Redesign, Revive, Reinvent ouselves and take a new look at our life and lifestyle.
    We were just flowing mindlessly in the flow. The lockdown brakes were too good to take a inner path and realise our own DNA structure.
    This introspection will enrich our future pattern of living
    Thanks for sharing a ADVANTAGE IN such a disadvantage.
    LOCKDOWN has definitely helped our inner locks to OPEN UP

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