• Hannah Parbatti Chaudhri

Sent to our Rooms to Think ~ Covid-19

Mother sent us to our room to think about what we had done.

Current lockdown in the U.K during the Covid19 pandemic is not as strict as many other countries in the world. We are still permitted to take daily outdoor exercise and shops are open that supply essential items. The Government have vowed to provide financial support to help all, and schools remain open for children of parents who fall under the key worker umbrella.

As we embark upon week four of the situation, I have observed with interest the behaviour, energy and general ebb and flow of society.

In week one I described the overall behaviour of society as ‘fight or flight’ and this was my understanding for the panic buying and the surge of online offerings from businesses small and large (myself included). The NHS (along with other key workers) were being praised for their efforts, and special moments of community recognition came on Thursday at 8pm when everyone stood on their doorsteps to clap.

In week two I sensed frustration, anger, and what I can only describe as petulance or perhaps denial of the severity of implications from large sects of people ignoring the lockdown rules. It seemed the calm, compassionate and helpful people in the community appeared to be retorting with anger, judgement and verbal outbursts across social media (many of which were quite accurate and acceptable!). The clapping and cheering continued, and the death rate was slowly and surely creeping up. The Queen addressed the nation on prime time TV and the sunshine bloomed in the sky, and even couch potatoes were out walking.

In week three my social media feed was full of entrepreneurs telling me how to keep my business going, along with kind wishes to the Prime Minister who was sadly in intensive care. There has been much debate as to what essential means, and I too have felt annoyed at people sitting

drinking at the side of my local canal – clearly this does not fall under any of the allowed activities. However, the man buying paint at Wilkinson’s that the police are asking if he needs to be there, firstly if it’s not an essential shop close it. But seeing as he is here perhaps he really does have a genuine reason for needing to buy that paint; maybe it’s the one thing that will stop this alcoholic reaching for a bottle of whisky. Alarmingly domestic abuse cases have been recorded by the BBC to have increased by 25%.

I’m not a scientist, although what I have witnessed at large can be directly linked to two well-known theorists’ models, the Kubler – Ross cycle of grief, and the trans-theoretical behaviour change model by Prochaska and DiClemente. Both models are commonly demonstrated as a flow chart because normal human behaviour is not linear. It is natural for us to flit back and forth between stages, to repeat or even completely omit a stage, because we are all different and process in our own unique and special way.

I have sensed the heaviest of chaotic and crazy energy that I would associate with trauma, and that’s exactly how I would describe the effects of Covid19 in the UK. The uncertainty of timeframes, the fear of contracting the virus, the restriction of virtual house arrest, home schooling and not being able to socialise physicallyhas created emotional trauma for the majority of the population.

My Mother often rattles my cage with her theories on mass conspiracy, and she says the bible told us about this, first the floods, fire, famine and then pestilence. I don’t know if I believe in the bible, but I can’t help but think she might have raised a valid point!

I have read poems in amazement about the water in Italy turning clear, the skies in India smog free and in China they can hear the birds again. Mother Earth needs this rest, to replenish, restore and grow – and so do we!

I don’t necessarily mean rest in the literal sense of treating everyday like a rainy PJ Sunday (and hopefully people aren’t when we are being blessed with such beautiful spring weather), but to reflect restfully and realign with what this pandemic is teaching us. They say change is as good as a rest, and I truly believe that this change (albeit not great circumstances) should be viewed with positivity for a better life, a stronger more cohesive community, and a healthier planet.

My greatest fear is that people are desperate to go back to ‘Normal’ yet normal was killing us, and the planet! Easter arrived, and the question on everybody’s lips was ‘How much longer?’ This week we have heard of earthquakes in India and tornadoes in Mississippi – I’d say Mother Nature is not done with her message yet!

Of course the greatest learning is that most things in life can be both a blessing and a curse (if we are attached to them), be it the sunshine, or our love of environmental freedom, all of life is two sides of the same coin.

As a mischievous child I was often sent to my room to think about ‘what I’d done’ and ultimately I sense Mother Earth is suggesting we do the same!

As a nation, we are in our rhetorical bedrooms, and many people are staying there and processing, going through that cycle of change and grief, and for some the realisation that this time is precious and if used well (and that doesn’t mean numbing out from reality and decorating every room in the house – although perhaps do it quietly and think at the same time!) can eventually be a step towards a better and very different world for us all.

Those people who are refusing to stay in their bedrooms are not only being irresponsible, but they fail to see that they are part of a huge group challenge and a little like a Crossfit workout or an Alan Sugar challenge, nobody has really finished until the last one comes in or in this case, stays home.

We have become so reliant on ‘Right Now’ I’m not just talking about the huge debt that people have been lured to live in, but we live in a world of impatience; want that book tomorrow, Amazon; Can’t be bothered to cook, Sainsbury’s; Don’t want buy flowers and deliver, Interflora.

We have become greedy, lazy and as technology has made everything possible ‘Now’ we have adapted and expected for all of life to be like this. The irony (more two sides of the same coin) here is that technology is proving to be the greatest solution for individuals and business right now, be it keeping in touch via FaceTimeor leading meetings, classes or whatever via the Zoom platform (if I was a cynic I could even suggest that Zoom was in on this pandemic due to the surge in their usage – I am joking of course!) online interaction is what’s keeping us going.

Everyone deals with their ‘stuff’ differently, and some people will remain in action (fight mode) throughout and crumble afterwards, others are in despair (flight mode) right now, and some are just being present, accepting and adapting, being still and listening to the inner call of nature to slow down.

The question looms - who’s really got it all sussed and taken lessons from it?

The thing is peace and clarity rarely comes when we are in motion, only when we are still (ever been suggested to sleep on it?). We won’t all come up with the same outcome, or have transformed our behaviour or mind-sets, but lets hope that the majority will come up with their own version of lessons a little like mine:

Covid19 has reminded me that status and power is no protection from nature, and that often life will seem unfair but if it’s out of your control, just accept it and focus on what you can do to make your life and the world in general a better place. Use technology purposefully and delete anyone who makes you feel anger, because really who needs that kind of negativity on his or her phone screen. Instil in your mind to remember that productivity is not a reflection of being an integrally good person, and what you do behind closed doors matters just as much as what you boast to the world about on social media. Working from home is tough, but remember the two sides of that coin; the weekends are no longer about chores because you got them smashed whilst on that conference call!

Finally, be kind, give more, and judge less, not just to others but also to yourself. You can live with less, you will survive this life changing part of history and WE will enjoy more peace, harmony and even possibly extend our life expectancy.


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