Jeanette Couvaras, Sunday, August 30th, 2020
Life gets so busy in normal times, and we learn to go with the flow
And then something drastic happens, and all of a sudden, the flow as we know it is disturbed.
Everything is in turmoil and our lives feel shattered.
Life as we know it, has changed.
The Centre cannot hold and our reality is changing, faster that we can adapt.
But adapt we must, lest we lose ourselves
And adapt we will, because we choose to
And because of the little things, that matter in ways unimaginable
We keep going, because we choose to.
Life appeared to be proceeding normally in Zambia in the first quarter of 2020, even though the corona virus had already started spreading to other parts of the world. There were some heightened concerns, but nothing even remotely scary. Then came March 18, when we reported our first case of the virus in the country, and suddenly, everything changed. Life as we know it ceased to exist, things we took for granted could no longer be done, such as getting a simple handshake, hugging a friend, visiting close relations and having a birthday party for a loved one among others. This became even worse, as Zambia started recording deaths from corona virus. We had watched the effects of the pandemic in countries like Italy and Iran, but the reality is very different when directly confronted with the virus. We watched as isolation centers got filled up with loved ones, many of whom recovered, while some succumbed to the deadly disease. By 23rd July, 2020, Zambia had a cumulative 11, 082 cases, with 10, 062 having already recovered and with 277 falling victim to the virus. At the time of writing, there are 12, 025 reported cases, 11, 454 recoveries and 287 deaths.
The harsh reality of the pandemic unfortunately does not end there; it has left in its wake harsh socio-economic consequences for families. Job losses, company closures and retrenchments are the order of the day. Once thriving cities are now faced with severe economic hardships as production is severely hampered by the effects of the pandemic. Commodity prices have fallen drastically due to reduced demand, and the Kwacha, the local currency, has come under severe pressure. In African countries where “black tax” continues to be a major concern, the pressure for the middle class has become heightened. Those who have not lost their jobs now have a bigger concern as the number of people dependent on their salaries has increased drastically. In times like these, it’s very easy for one to get down on themselves. Seeing all that is going on around us can be quite depressing; so much death, so much misery and suffering, and the reality of another global recession. How does one react to all this?
Finding myself again in the Little Things
Following the pandemic, adaptation has become necessary in order to for one to live with the ‘new normal’ and to avoid depression. Here are some of the things I did to adapt:
More Family time….
I spent more time with my family and I absolutely loved that. Since I could not go anywhere safely, I stayed home. And I interacted with my family. The more time I spent home, the better we all felt. I rediscovered the joy in little children, who I found to adapt even more easily than I could. We played games, watched television, cooked meals, did chores. It was very satisfying for me personally, and indeed the entire family. It was also less stressful and I found myself really paying attention to the family.
Rediscovering myself ….
In a very long time, I had been so busy, I found that the only time I was ever really alone was when I was travelling. The pandemic forced a lot of people to spend time with themselves, and I personally loved that. I found that I could think more clearly, and logically. I rediscovered my passion for reading, and I read more books in a period of about one month than I had in the entire 2019. My books ranged from self-help books such as “Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life”, to the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. I love reading a lot, and somehow, I realised that I had not been reading as much as I would have wanted to. Somehow, now I do.
I spent more time with nature and noticed things that I would not normally notice. I noticed how clean the air felt and smelt. I noticed the colour of the trees whenever I took walks. There were fewer cars on the road, and somehow, the environment seemed happier than it had been in a very long time. I took to jogging in the morning, when the air was freshest, and when I felt I was more in tune with the environment. I visited the Victoria Falls in July, and for some reason, it looked more beautiful than I had ever seen them. Or perhaps I just noticed things that I never paid much attention to in my previous visits. It was serene.
The pandemic challenges all of us to attempt to find a silver lining, where none is so far visible. It has taught me the benefits of a positive attitude especially when faced with situations we have very little control over. How we respond determines a lot of things for us. All of a sudden, I had a much clearer understanding of Franklin Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. I had to learn to ‘carry my own weather’ in a world that was increasingly gray. I learnt how much control I have over my own mind set, and how much that could influence a lot of things around me. I learnt the power of negative energy and how I could avoid getting swallowed up in it.
The pandemic has taught me to be more appreciative, and not to take things for granted. I learnt to notice all the things I should be thankful, as opposed to complaining over something I could not change. I learnt to pray and to thank God for the little things, that turned out to matter quite a lot. For the good health that we sometimes take for granted.
Jeanette Couvaras | Lusaka, Zambia | Sunday, August 30th, 2020