The current phase of human history, aptly termed as ‘The Great Pause’ by some wise intellectuals, presents each one of us with an excellent once-a-lifetime opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the world we live in. We have been presented with a timely opportunity to assess how we have been living in the past, which could be best described as mere existence for many of us, rather than living deliberately, and rushing through our lives with a mindlessly fast-paced lifestyle. Now, we have the time to reflect and decide why and how we must live our lives deliberately.
The current phase is meant for self-correction and becoming good humans. If not now, then when? It may be our last opportunity to turn things around, not only for us individually but also collectively for the entire human race and our beautiful planet. At a time when the world has paused for a while and no one is rushing ahead of us, which may have otherwise caused anxiety in us due to our intrinsically competitive nature, envy or jealousy, we must avail this time to try and set things right within ourselves.
We have a chance to learn good habits and unlearn old bad habits. We must stop being indolent and stop trashing useful information and wisdom that come our way. We must stop beating the cooks (metaphor for teachers) who feed us, we must stop biting the hands that feed us. We must stop being self-indulgent in short-term, cheap, mundane pleasures of life, which have proved a sheer waste of time in the past.
Our mobile phone has been our biggest distraction in the recent times. It is a great facility in so many ways but equally our biggest enemy in many other ways. It has the potential to dilute the quality of our lives if we misuse it, which we generally do. There should a time and place for it – how and when we use it.
This current phase of human history provides excellent opportunity to each one of us to relearn using our brain and exploit our full brain capacity. We must verify the authenticity of any information or message that comes our way on social media. Let us stop being led as herd. Social media is useful but can become dangerously toxic if misused. We must set a time and duration for using it and desist from forwarding messages and videos that potentially pollute our mind with toxic hatred against fellow humans. Why should we waste our invaluable time in negative activities?
During this Great Pause, we must focus on our self-improvement rather than wasting our time and energy in the negative criticism of other people or indulge in a political campaign (knowingly or unknowingly) against other communities and nations. Instead, we must try and develop creative hobbies – from a range of creative and performance arts, such as singing, music, writing, reading, bird-watching, walking, running, baking, painting pottery, acting etc. – to keep us engaged and mentally healthy.
Most importantly, we must learn to live life deliberately. What does that mean? Sadly, many of us may not know what that really means.
Living deliberately means doing everything – sleeping, entertaining, educating, reading, exercising, eating, romancing, contemplating, cooking, baking etc. – with purpose and thoughtfulness, whilst remaining mindful of ourselves and the environment around us. Living deliberately means not just skimming through things cursorily or doing things halfheartedly, with distracted mind. For example:
- Let us learn how to enjoy the food that we eat, respect it and not rush through this most important chore of our daily-life. While eating our lunch or dinner, let us not watch the television or be distracted by our mobile phone at the same time. Lunch or dinner time, as the case may be, is meant for a family to sit down together and interact positively, while partaking of Nature’s gift and the human toil with gratitude. We must never take our food for granted. Who knows, we may reach a point of time in our life when we may have many dollars in the bank but not a grain to eat or a drop of water to drink!
- When we watch the television, let us enjoy the show that we are watching with keen interest and joy, and try to use it as an educational tool. It is a bad idea – for both our mind and eyes – to switch constantly between the television and mobile phone screens during the same period of time.
- When we use our mobile phone, let us put it to a good and productive use. Misusing mobile phone is misusing a great facility. We may lose this great facility one day, as per the law of Nature, if we continue misusing it.
- When we go out for a walk, let us observe the environment around us deliberately; greet our fellow walkers with a smile and interact with them, if possible; watch the sky and listen to birds. Our ears don’t have to be plugged during our walk, let us keep them open for our own safety and to remain connected with the environment.
- When we do some reading, as part of our formal study or for our leisure, let us not just skim through what we are reading. Let us try and understand what has been written and why. Let us introspect and ask questions, where possible. Reading is learning, let us not disrespect it.
- When we play, let us put our heart into the sport that we play and play the best we can.
- When we go to sleep, let us switch off all other distractions to sleep well, preferably at the same time every night and for at least 7 hours.
- When we laugh, let us laugh whole-heartedly, uninhibited.
- When we get upset or angry at anything, there is no harm in swearing, uninhibited, but never at strangers or in any outdoor setting. Bottling up anger is bad for our mental and physical health. Swearing and expression of anger are just human. If our basic nature is characterised by short-temperedness and anger, it would be a good idea to regularly punch a punching bag and let go of our emotions on a daily basis.
- When we are romancing, let us romance with all our heart, without mobile phone distractions.
- When we are cooking, let us cook with all our heart and produce healthy and delicious niceties.
In short, living deliberately means being with a person, a thing or an activity 100-percent at any given point of time, and not just halfheartedly or cursorily.
Live in the moment. Be it, feel it, live it, full.
COVID-19 has presented each one of us with an excellent opportunity to revisit our relationships and deeply gel with our families and friends. Perhaps Nature may have discovered our environment – physical, mental, spiritual and environmental – had alarmingly heated up, because we were just rushing blind through our lives; we wanted everything yesterday. At that rate, we would have burnt ourselves, dead. So, Nature may have decided to put full brakes on our lives and forced us to recede and contemplate where we were going and, instead, decide where actually we should be heading and how to live life deliberately.
In the broader context and in our greater interest, this Great Pause may have been necessary, not only for us but more for our children and their future generations. We had polluted our environment to extremely dangerous levels, now we are paying a heavy price for our mindless actions and negligent inaction. This price was logically necessary so that our future generations could breathe in a cleaner environment and thrive in a much healthier world than the world we had inherited or helped to create.
Let us, therefore, take this time to sit down and reconnect internally, and not superficially, with ourselves and our families and friends. Let us contemplate deeply to reflect and start living life deliberately.
Re-connection with ourselves and our conscience is necessary for being able to connect with the wider world.
Life is a boon, an opportunity, a promise, a precious gift. Let us not waste it. COVID-19 may have thankfully given us this last opportunity to rediscover life and start living happily, beautifully, deliberately, with accountability and responsibility.
Thanks to COVID-19 for waking us up to rediscover life and prompting us to living its core objectives deliberately.
Note: This article may not reflect God’s word, but it is a sincere message from a sincere friend.
Bill Koul (05 April 2020)