I live in Melbourne, Australia, and we are currently part way through a 6-week COVID lockdown, our second lockdown of the pandemic. I have decided that living in lockdown gives you plenty of time to think about life’s most important priorities. In the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic the ‘excitement' of the unknown carried me through. I made sourdough bread 3-4 times a week. I got better at it over time. Being a scientist, and having created BOA exfoliant, I was looking at the different types of flours that I could use. At times I was limited to whatever the supermarket carried on that day. I would look at the rate of water absorption of the flour and would check to see how the bread turned out the next day. From the outcome I would make some assumptions on the particle size distribution of the flour and build my knowledge of the process.
The days that my mood was going down, I would practice my meditation and redirect my thought process back to the present moment and start to look at things from a different perspective. I started practicing my gratitude meditation and would remind myself of the blessings in my life. I started to create a daily routine and looked at that routine as a way of stabilising my life and anchoring it to the current moment rather than letting my head spin, worrying that life is a runaway train that I have no control over. For the record I am not a routine oriented person and typically get bored very quickly, but these were not normal times.
Eventually the restrictions were lifted and I started to hope that things were moving in the right direction. I even hugged my sister-in-law when I was invited to a dinner party at her place. I was gleeful about the return of my freedoms and found myself gloating to my friends back in the US, telling them how wonderfully the State of Victoria had managed the pandemic.
Then the second wave of infections hit and the rising number of cases did make it feel like everything was getting out of control for couple of weeks. Stage 4 lockdown was imposed and unfortunately the death toll started mounting. My freedoms have once again been curbed. I can only walk in a 5 km radius from my home and outdoor exercise is limited to one hour. This time around it felt a lot harder to bring back my mind to the present moment and focus my thoughts, but then I came across an exercise that helped me a lot.
I started asking the question, 'if this was the last day of your life how would you want to spend it?'. I realised I was spending my day exactly as I would want to spend it.
I go out for a walk, rain or shine, smile at the considerate people who stop and allow me to pass. I breathe in the fresh air (even through a mask). I come home to my beautiful family. I paint and work on my various projects. I see my daughter come down the stairs, albeit she is a bit stressed as she is going through her final year of high school during a pandemic via remote learning. My eyes light up when I see her and I tell myself that I am grateful for what I have in that moment. Every day is a gift. You can choose to go through it in an unhappy manner or celebrate what the moment offers and put it in perspective. I do believe the universe is talking to us at each given moment in our lives and all I have to do is listen and go with it.
As my mother used to tell me, the magnitude of a problem all depends on where you are on the staircase of life. If you feel unhappy, just go up one more step and look down at the problem again and you will see your perceived problem suddenly smaller than it was. Keep going up and at the top of the stairs you will see that what you thought of as a huge problem is really very small in scheme of all things.