On Being Quarantined
Posted by Jyoti on Mar 23, 2020
I will likely not leave home for many more days. I work as an educator. Through the government announcements I learnt for the first time in years that my services are considered 'essential' so instead of closing down like most other institutions, we have continued to teach, although to maintain social distance and keep campus safe, we have moved all classes online. This week I spent over 30 hours teaching in video conference call style classes. All of my students are working adults, and they too are impacted. They are either off work or working from home. No one is commuting to work or traveling as they used to. This sudden change has been hard for many of them. We are so accustomed to being caught in the rate race of daily life that being asked to stay home, even one we have carefully setup for our comfort, is very disorienting and disturbing. One student told the class that he still goes out to buy coffee at a coffee shop near him before joining class from home. Another said she is driving around aimlessly with nowhere to go because she just has to get out of the house.
What we do, is what we become. Our daily lives condition us. I am at ease at home because I just spent the past three months taking care of my elderly mother at her home. She is in a state that I seldom left the home, and got used to being there for extended periods of time. In the past, I have spent an extended period (4 years almost) at home, at a time when I had experienced a personal setback. I used to only leave home under duress, and only for essentials. By staying with my failure, grieving for it and eventually learning to let go, I was able to finally move forward.
These experiences gave me the capacity to stay put and let things be. That is why I am now able to spend time at home with ease and be able to comfort the restless ones among my students. I think of this 'down time' as being in a pupa that will be transformative from the earlier state of a caterpillar to a new state of a butterfly. I use the time to think of what needs to change, and what small changes can I make every day, to be better aligned with the new emerging universe ahead. The quiet time is needed to hear the inner voice, that is most often a faint and tentative one. Maybe if this quarantine continues, may others too will get accustomed to this far slower pace of life, where family members hang out together, cook, and look out for the neighbors again. The new way of being might just lead us all to rediscover the joys of slow life.