Indeed, the world is changing because of the COVID-19 virus. This is the growing observation and conclusion of many. There is fear and sadness and suffering all around. And people expect things to get even worse from this point until they get better. When we as a species get over this, I feel things will not go back to how they were. We are changing right now and, yes, the world is, too. We may be learning a few good things along the way.
On a personal level, here is what I am experiencing.
Because of fear of catching COVID, many families are now showing concern for the state of health of everyone in their household, including their kasambahays. People are checking on each other’s health daily. I have started giving vitamins to my maids and driver and getting them to do a few exercises with me every morning. I know they are getting bored. For their mental health, I have brought out our family collection of jigsaw puzzles so they can spend time doing something together. In our house, we have all become a “family” because of our concern for each other. We all know that any person in the household who gets sick threatens the health of everyone.
We also do one common spiritual activity. We all pray the rosary together every evening at six in front of our gate. This has been going on since Day 1 of the lockdown. I have learned to recite most of the rosary in Tagalog since my kasambahays recite them in the vernacular. This has become an important activity for us. Many in the neighborhood come out of their gates, too, and do the same thing. While observing distancing, we wave at each other as we pray together. We feel a unity with everyone on our street as we struggle to stay alive and safe in this age of coronavirus.
I notice, too, that people are more connected than ever through social media. News passes around instantaneously. Verification is fast. Fake news can easily be debunked. Everyone has become some sort of a media center. And just as quickly, requests for prayers, donations, and all sorts of support are quickly disseminated. There are many fundraising activities going on now and help is coming from many sectors. People are getting out of their immediate circles and are showing greater concern for those who are suffering the most in our society. People are also posting messages thanking our medical frontliners. This can only be good.
I feel that in little ways we be planting the seeds of genuine love and concern for others.
I have not worn shoes since the quarantine started. I have been going through my clothes lately and I noticed I have been wearing the same four sets of T-shirts and shorts in rotation for almost three weeks now. The value I used to put on a whole lot of things is now suddenly under scrutiny and review. And I do not even own a lot of nice stuff.
Take a look at the expensive stuff that you own. What good are your new clothes, shoes, fine bags, jewelry, your expensive car right now? Are they of any value in this time of quarantine? You can’t flaunt or even enjoy them, not when you can’t even go out anywhere. And not when you get news about friends, classmates, neighbors and relatives getting sick and dying. Enjoying your material possessions is probably the last thing on your mind as your own fragility and mortality continue to dawn upon you almost daily. You are now probably more appreciative and thankful for the simpler things — food on the table, another day without sickness. We probably notice acts of kindness more now than ever before.
We may be developing the attitude of gratitude on a massive scale. This can only be better for everyone.
COVID-19 has made us pay attention to the little things we do every day. More specifically, we must pay attention to what we do and how we act almost every moment. To some, it my feel like paranoia since we have to be constantly aware of everything we touch such as groceries, inanimate objects, bannisters, light switches, door knobs, etc. And of course, there is physical proximity to other people. All these may spell life or death.
In the beginning, it may be unsettling. But paying attention is actually an important step in living a higher quality of life. Paying attention opens you to a higher consciousness because it makes you see a lot more of what’s really going on in your own life. I am talking of things beyond the manifest world.
Think of this quarantine as a forced retreat. It shouldn’t be hard to do since we are actually in the season of Lent right now. It is a good time to take stock of what we really value, and what the meaning of everything is. It is an opportunity to go beyond simply reciting prayers, into actually pondering what our mostly inherited religious beliefs really mean to us.
It is a time to meet our inner selves and get deeply honest.