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  • Sherise Schlaht

THE PARADOX OF PANDEMIC

In light of the current pandemic festivities, I contemplated forgoing blogging this week. As I sat in contemplation, better judgement stepped in and reminded me that life must go on. If you are reading this, it is my hope to elicit some remnant of normalcy. This #thoughtfultuesday is an attempt to move beyond the mind while it is consumed by the presence of great external uncertainty.


As humans, we are creatures of habit. This largely has to do with the fact that much of our existence operates on the level of the mind. I have mentioned previously that the predominant role of the mind is to re-formulate input into a comprehensible images, feelings, thoughts, and experiences. In this way, the mind is not constantly creating new content, but is merely piecing together previous knowledge and regurgitating it. Amidst unknown circumstances as such, there is a general lack of comprehension on the level of the mind. The presence of unrecognizable stimuli means the mind cannot adequately piece together past knowledge to comprehend what is in front of it. Resultantly, the gaps are filled with fear-based responses. It is important to highlight that I am not a neuroscientist and my conceptualizations are a compilation of eastern philosophy, western psychology, and a healthy dose of narcissism. The overall point of this jargon is that the surfacing of fear is a completely natural response to our current situation. Although fear is signalling like a flashing neon open sign, we can acknowledge the convenience store of fear and continue passing by. After all, who wouldn’t choose to leave panic on the shelf if they knew there was an option? If this were the case, perhaps it would be next to the toilet paper. Today I had no option but to succumb to the purchasing of a package of flushable wipes.


Satire aside, I have made an interesting observation in my own life which seems applicable and relevant to share. When my life was consumed with busyness, there was little time to acknowledge the presence of the mind and body. Hence, the vast majority of my days took place in the subconscious. Each morning with the opening of my eyes, the autopilot switched on and I moved from one event to the next. I was consumed by what needed to be completed next; an utter avoidance of the present and a fixation on the future. If you can relate to this experience, you likely know that it is a perfect recipe for a highly anxious existence. Without the disruption of my panic-ridden, robotic existence by a complete burnout, I would likely still be engaged in this pattern. This is the silver-lining of the pandemic; it is the disruption of our patterns that we weren’t aware we needed. As humanity slows down and becomes quiet, space is created for our frazzled minds and bodies. For those who have been constantly moving, it is likely that there hasn’t been the opportunity to listen to these voices. Years of neglect and pressing on may mean that these voices have a lot to say and are doing so loudly. We now have the opportunity, the excuse to intimately exist with ourselves. There are options in how we choose to do so; we can continue the rat race by buying into fear and panic, or we can pause and assume a stance of curiosity.


I stated earlier that humans are creatures of habit. Humans are also highly adaptable if afforded the opportunity. Here is our opportunity to try on different ways of being and relating to ourselves and one another. What is required is that we move out of our own way. I am reminded of the closure of the public transit system in London due to a strike in the early 2000’s. Public transit is the principal means of travel for a large percentage of “Londoners”, so this meant mass disruption for citizens. In the spirit of innovation, people found alternative ways of getting around. Whether this meant biking, carpooling, car sharing, or exploring different routes, Londoners managed. Following the end of the strike and the resuming of public transportation services, many people preferred their new means of travel and chose to forgo its use. The moral of this story is one that we cannot predict what lies on the other side of a difficult situation. Our mind calls to fear and worse-case scenarios, which is not based in reality. I find solace in accepting the uncertainty that is the future moment in any case. All we have is now my fellow hominids. Let us find it within ourselves to display courage, grace, and compassion.


Carry on bravely,


Sherise

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