Staying sane in COVID times
How do we cope with the overwhelming situation brought on by the second wave of COVID-19 in our country? Suma Varughese offers a few rules of thumb
I don’t suppose anyone expected COVID’s second wave to engulf the country in the manner that it is doing. I am writing this more than a month before you will read it, so I am hoping, nay praying, that the crisis will have eased. Nevertheless, it is worth reflecting on a few things.
Firstly—amid the overwhelming situation that the country is facing on account of the surging number of cases and deaths, and the unprecedented shortage of beds, oxygen, remdesivir, as well as vaccines—how do we retain our sanity? I use a simple mantra to retain mine, and I am offering it to you. Always remember that each of us comes to Planet Earth with a destiny: Only if we are meant to get COVID, will we get it. If not, we will not get it. And even if we do get it, only if we are meant to die of it, will we do so. Otherwise, we will heal and soon recover our strength and well-being.
Do repeat this thought, dear friend, as you go about your daily grind. It will help you to stay stable and free of paranoia. It will also give you courage when you do have to go out on urgent or important work such as coming to the aid of family, friends, and neighbours, needing to attend to a medical emergency of your own, or other matters that cannot wait.
And what if you do get it? What helps me enormously is to reflect on the thought that nothing would have come to me without God willing it. And if God wanted this to happen to me, then, surely, my highest good lies in this? Some major karma is being settled for sure, and maybe some much-needed lessons wait in the wings for my attention.
Allowing God to have his way in our lives is not just wisdom, but it also fills us with some amount of peace. I don’t deny that our initial reactions may be of fear and panic, but holding on to this thought will anchor the mind and enable us to stay in touch with the Divine when we most need it.
Secondly, how can we regulate our behaviour during these times? How do we know when to go out and when not to? Who to meet and who not to? Where to go and where not to? Here is my thumb rule. I will go nowhere and do nothing that is self-indulgent in nature. No meeting friends or family except those you live with. No going out to malls or entertainment spots. No eating out or catching a show. Above all, no travel.
So does this mean I went nowhere or met no one? Not quite. I did go to Thane, first to meet my dying sister (a cancer patient who passed away on March 19 this year) and then to nurse her from January onwards. I also invited home an ex-colleague of mine who is a super photographer because I needed pictures to promote my workshop fliers. And less than a week ago, I returned after spending 10 days in hospital, attending to my nephew who was going through an emergency. All three times, I felt justified in my action. They were not self-indulgent. They were important. If in the presence of the first and the third, I had got COVID and died, I would not have regretted it or kicked myself.
We need to purchase our illness and possible death (and the illness and death of others we may infect) at as high a price as we can. No point in throwing them away cheaply. Go out if you must, not when you want to. Meet someone if you must, but not because you want to. We are all itching to take back our lives, but in the process, we may lose them. There is a time for everything. And right now it is time to simply drop anchor and stay put. Stay well!
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com.
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