Why '21 days of isolation' is an opportunity for personal growth

Guest Column: Mahesh Chauhan, Director of Salt Brand Solutions, believes that our current phase of self-isolation is a godsent opportunity for introspection and personal growth

e4m by Mahesh Chauhan
Updated: Mar 28, 2020 10:08 AM
21 days

As the nation goes into a 21-day complete lockdown, the first thing that struck me was the number 21. They say that one loses 21 grams when one dies. And specifically, 21 grams has been extrapolated to be the weight of the soul. If we suspend our logic as well as the historically challenged nature of the theory and allow ourselves to take a flight of fancy, maybe the days ahead will not just save our physical bodies but cleanse our souls as well. This change will happen at unprecedented speeds too, given the suddenness and overwhelming nature of events over the past week.

A lot has been spoken about how we are a rushed generation, how we are time-poor, how we have too much to do and too little time to do it, how we are living sponges that are overworked on weekdays and overindulgent on weekends (well, some of us are over the top all the time but that’s beside the point :p). Our perspective towards the younger generation is that they get bored very easily, that they are surfers of experiences, relationships etc. I wonder if all these premises will unravel and come apart over the next three weeks and more.

Firstly, how did this happen to us, to India? Imagine a country and a society that was brought up on a Brahmanical way of life, one that gave great credence to tenets of simple living, higher thinking. Imagine this society opening up economically and experiencing the shock of capitalism. What followed in quick succession was the advent of satellite TV, technology and life changing developments in every aspect. We were put on a hi-speed rollercoaster after being brought up on bullock carts. It did not matter which decade we got on to this rollercoaster, it just kept gaining speed with every passing year. We learnt to survive in the only way we knew- being faster and relentless. That’s how we have been for the past two decades, the pace ever-increasing, the buzz of new tech giving us the highs. Only to come to a sudden screeching halt now!

Imagine the rollercoaster coming to a halt leaving you stranded 100 feet above ground. Initially you think you will be bailed out quickly. And then the indefinite nature of the situation dawns on you. You do not know how long you will be stuck. That’s the situation you are in right now at your home. You are largely immobile; you have precious little to do. Sure, you have your omnipotent phone, OTT content and games. They will distract you for a while but then the grimness of the situation will come back to taunt you. The self-indulgent robotic you, whose eyes were, as if, glued on the screen, who took pride in multi-tasking, are now craving to have a single meaningful task to handle. You have so much time to look around that you want to tear your hair out.

WFH is a euphemism for being barred from stepping out of home. Let’s face it, most businesses are in a wait and watch mode, most production and consumption has come to a standstill, the best you can do is think proactively for the times ahead, plan the future. When you do so, I suggest you discard your old hat, drop all notions of life as before, I have heard the term ‘normal days’ being used longingly for the days gone by. I think they are gone for good. I believe that humans have had their moment of epiphany, their god complex has come crashing down and been blown to smithereens. As they pick up the pieces, they will look around more humbly and appreciate smaller things in life like never before. I suspect that life ahead will very different from life before novel coronavirus.

Strikes me, another thing about 21 is that it is minimum number of days it takes to discard old habits or acquire new ones. And herein lies the premise of what I said in the previous paragraph. Sheer monotony will force each one of us to explore something new. Greater intimacy with the near and dear ones at home will make us rediscover our feelings. Connections, over phone and video, with friends and others will also lead to better bonds, as distractions and rush of life take a back seat. Experiments in the kitchen, writing, sketching or learning something from YouTube- it is an endless menu for a greater connection with self. Something, that the time-poor humans, till now at least, had become poor at. This really is a godsent opportunity for us to pitchfork ourselves into a different orbit, into our own version 2.0s. What are we waiting for? The mirror is where it begins.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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