A new virus going around, impacting lives everywhere… It is exactly the kind of thing that makes people wish they were not a part of this world.
We have long been living like that, as if technology and science (or merely capitalism?) made us apart from the Earth’s ecology. Dare I say, as if it made us immune?
Given this mistake and this crisis, this is a time and a situation for which microexploration as a way to get at home in this world serves good purposes, both practical and psychological.
#GetAtHome vs. Panic – or Apathy
Travel plans are put on hold for the foreseeable future; even microadventures can appear a bit frivolous right now. This situation makes daily life enough of an adventure already.
As usual, when faced with a new and uncomfortable situation, reactions go towards the extremes.
From some, there is panic.
At least, panic buying of whatever others have been seen to buy in a state of panic. It was understandable that meat and vegetables were sold out when news of an impending lockdown came out.
Noodles were harder to understand. Flour, let alone toilet paper, even less so.
Panic is not advisable, it reduces rational reactions – and we are seeing enough of that on social media.
In social media, another flailing attempt at feeling in control is taking place, when people share every new number, every new scary detail. Even as it does not help anything, it feels good to feel in the know, even if (probably, maybe) wrongly.
From others, there is apathy. Deliberate flaunting of recommendations, because the people in question feel young and healthy and unaffected.
Or they feel affected only insofar as they will have to give up on what they wanted to do, and get grumpy and reticent about it.
YOLO, and now for a last hurrah!
The Difficult Reality, Being at Home in This World
At its most fundamental, learning to get at home in this world means realizing that we are a part of it all, not separate – for better and worse.
A new virus is something worrying – but also nothing to panic about, because life and death, health and disease, are all just part and parcel.
Something will get you. You have to live with that knowledge.
A new virus is something worrying – and not to ignore, but to take seriously.
Yes, you only live once – but hopefully, you are not so selfish that you wouldn’t care if you could be a vector of disease, spreading sickness and death around.
Disease or death could get you, too, and surely you don’t want to flaunt all advice, even if it’s easy enough and could mean a longer life, more to experience, rather than death or trouble?
Living with the Tension
The only sensible approach is one that’s comfortable – at home – with the tension of feelings, of views.
This antidote to the anxiety is an essential, but problematic, one: equanimity. Gained by acceptance.
Problem 1: Worrying News
It’s problematic because it is not easy to achieve when the news is full of worrisome numbers, and worse projections.
Updates of questionable value shared by people desperately grabbing at every new bit of supposed information that reinforces their views do not make things any better.
Solution 1: Do, with Sense
But, you can avoid the useless discussions and focus on what you can do now: Keep yourself safer, and don’t make things worse for others.
Problem 2: Opposites That Are Both True
It’s not an easy thing to achieve sensible equanimity with appropriate action, also, because uncertainty reigns. We do not know what will happen, and it worries us.
It does not help anything that opposite statements can both be quite true, depending on the point of view.
Millions could possibly die, you could, too – and in the greater course of things, that’s not so bad a situation.
There is very little you can do, sensibly, nothing is ever certain, nothing is absolute protection.
We will never have absolute certainty about many things, however, least of all of how our lives and those of our loved ones are going to go – and end.
Reality is that life will end; there’s no use in falling into panic over it.
Solution 2: Still Doing, Sensibly
There are things that can help, though.
There is only so much that we can do – but we have that limited possibility. With it, we have a responsibility, whether we want it or not. We will better take it.
So, you have decided to be sensible, walking this edge of reason between panic and apathy, stay at home, socially distance, have greater concern for hygiene… and now what?
Now the attitude of microexploration can help.
Being adventurous, curious, learning, not only means being out there somewhere. Life in a place does not have to be boring.
It all needs a balance; there are times for the adventure of learning new things with books, taking up training, preparing and planning.
#Microexploration for Mental Health
One step, in all the talk about learning to accept the tensions, the stark reality: Look closer, learn more – and distract yourself by it.
If you cannot go out and do things now, at least you can plan what you will do after. Learn and prepare.
It’s a great time, also, to revisit notes of where you have been – those Instagram selfies weren’t just vanity but for memory, weren’t they? – and learn more about them.
If you can go out locally, explore your surroundings.
You might be surprised about everything you can notice, now that you have reason to notice it as if it could be for the last time. Or as something special, as if you saw it for the first time.
#Microexploration for Health and Fitness
In going out – or staying in – you can get to know your own mind and body better, too.
Check what part of fitness you have let slide, and get to it. You don’t need much room to do the basics for stretching, for strength, for your core.
It’s a great time for breathing meditation, too.
If you are already worried about a virus that causes shortness of breath and pneumonia, making you already listen to your breath more – trust me, I am doing that – learn to truly pay attention to that. And to calm galloping thoughts in the process.
Consider exploring more of the foods that the world has to offer. (My food blog ChiliCult has advice on that.)
It’s not a good time for dieting, but a great time for revisiting your everyday diet, considering how healthy it is, learning to cook new things. Or comfortably familiar things you haven’t been making yourself.
Don’t panic, don’t take things lightly. Stay safe. And learn from it all, during it all.