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Lessons from lockdown: Searching for something more

The forced time at home, following the declaration of the lockdown  has brought Kelsey Hauptfleisch to surprising realisations about herself. By sharing them with our readers, she hopes to inspire others to consider the personal lessons they’ve acquired during this time.

It’s been over two weeks since this crazy situation began.  I wouldn’t be the first to mention that the anxiety of this time can be crippling for us, and those around us as we think of the weeks still to come. When we are forced to do something, it’s as if, almost automatically, we have the need and the irresistible  urge to do the opposite. But to be frank, many of us regularly live a life of work, home, sleep, repeat — and maybe an occasional exercise thrown in to keep the prized physique.

For my part, I seem to have found an unexpected positive impact during this lockdown. That is, despite the idiotic panic buying and the fact that some might have 18 packets of crisps — which on a typical day they wouldn’t think of eating — and toilet paper to get them through the most horrendous bout of diarrhoea.

How many of us have taken this time at home to enjoy our gardens, patios or to sort through the inutile things we have held onto for years? How many of us have spent some time in the past week being present to ourselves?

During this enforced period at home we find ourselves with time on our hands. We have not been given extra hours in the day, but we have been given a chance to see what we do with our time. 

Except for those lucky sods we find ourselves locking-down with, we are not forced to interact with anyone.  It’s a time that has released us from the pressures of needing to interact with many. We can choose the people we allow to affect us or at least be attentive to the impact that the absence or presence of another has on us.

How many of us have spent some time in the past week being present to ourselves?

I don’t think we realise how much others’ emotions, baggage, and daily complaints can disrupt our cores. Now, we suddenly have the time to do things we get a real kick out of, or to perhaps try something new that we’ve always wanted to do.

I’ve jumped into the deep-end. I’m teaching myself to play the guitar. I know, I won’t be walking out of the lockdown as the lead guitarist of a band ready to release a top hit. In fact, my fingers hurt badly.  I am dreadfully sorry for those I live with who are being subjected to my discordant strumming, but I have had such enjoyment trying something new at the age of 30.

It’s made me happy.

Besides the tomfoolery of it all, surely there is something you could teach yourself to bring a new happiness into your life?

We’ve too easily forgotten the capabilities of our brains and the magnitude of its operations. We can continuously learn and try. Maybe even try, again and again, regardless of the outcome. We have been so conditioned to doing the norm that we forget the basics of life and of being a happy person.

Let’s put this into perspective. You have been given 35 days (now that the lockdown has been extended) of you. That’s 840 hours to do whatever you choose to do with your time. 

We’ve too easily forgotten the capabilities of our brains and the magnitude of its operations.

Yes, there are still people working from home and others who don’t have this luxury because they are putting their own lives at risk to save us or meet our daily needs. But, most of us, don’t have an excuse.

I am sure some of us are working harder from home than they would be at the office, taking neither coffee breaks nor time for chit chat, trying to fill our days with chores and activities that distract us from ourselves and the pain of our present situation.

But, let’s seize this gift and take the time to venture into something new, or even old, something that brings us pure bliss — like what I am doing now. I never thought I’d find myself writing a column. Thank you for being my inaugural readers.

If we each find that inner happy core, we could walk out of lockdown being much happier people.

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.