Well, in the context of what’s happening around the world, for now, “isolation”, may be the only word that is so respected and feared at the same time! So even as nations battle it out there using all the tricks that they have in their book- one common thread on all this happens to be “keeping distance” and “isolation” as much as possible- well certainly that’s the way and perhaps the only way to fight contagious diseases from spreading (we learnt this as students of grade four, I guess), until we have the vaccines in place. But still what’s important to observe and study is how the human mind is coping up with or loosing it, as social interactions are restricted and at times when Isolation becomes the norm! This is about knowing how amazingly we the see the best and hope even in the darkest and most trying times! So here we go!
We all know about humans being “social animals” and have learned this at school (and even if we have not been to any), through the mere fact that we are related and would have a dozen of first cousins and over two dozens of second level relations, merely reflects how human society has evolved through the last three centuries! As the promise of resources (read food, water, shelter and safety) grew over the last three centuries, humans have resigned themselves to the comfort of community support for all situations good and bad– whether it is a community fun fare, marriages in the little town tucked away far from the city, political representation (unless you are yet being ruled by kings/ autocrats) or it is about saving lives in face of natural calamities and being there for one another when disaster strikes! This is more or less how we have always been and this is how it is supposed to be – irrespective of all the differences of ideologies and pressures acquired by a society by virtue of the urge to control and dictate- this fundamental thread of being able to look out for one another for good and bad and expecting nothing in return ( and you always thought only animals are wired like this!).It has always been so and it is again, we humans who have from time to time either ignored this or played even this to our advantages!
Looping back to the times that we are experiencing right now, the induced isolation, through self-quarantines and medical quarantine worldwide to protect ourselves and the ones around is throwing up some strange strategies to cope with this new dictate of the ruling governments! There are some communities which even under lock-down situations have managed to connect through human voice and music (even as they stay isolated), there are yet who have possibly sought refuge to engage and interact online, so that they feel and stay connected, yet others roam about as if nothing happened ( and these are the gifted ones’ who have always remained in self- imposed quarantine either because of their lengthened intelligence or completely extinguished cognitive ability- either ways it’s helping the world for now! More strange have been those instances where few- really handful few- who have mustered the courage to escape and run away form quarantined zones! So what are all these behavioral attributes saying about us and the human mind! What are we now evolving into as we face and overcome this global menace which is requiring us to manage social distance and be unto ourselves- how will this help or harm the future of our societies?
Human brain seeks companionship and that’s how it is hard-wired – you may be the most eclectic of yogi’s or saint’s seeking divine bliss- but even for you to tell the world that you have attained it- you will still need someone to speak to about it! So when you put people in completely unnatural situations- the first involuntary reaction is of disbelief- “No this can’t be happening- not to me- the medical guys have made a mistake- they are idiots- It can’t be”, this is followed by a quick realization of the next point- “well what if they are right and I am not taken care of – I may not exist and I may be well on my way out of the planet and the end up being a statistical number!- This powerful thought then overcomes the initial disbelief and shock making co-operation possible and then resigning oneself to the orders from perfect strangers who call themselves whoever they are-doctors, paramedics, you name it – The simple promise that you will be fine and safe by doing what we say- is such a powerful statement that almost 99% people will comply and pay heed to what these strangers are saying(In different context of history though- read dictators- it is exactly a similar response that has ended up having more people killed then cured!).The remaining 1%, well yes they do exit and these are the one’s who will end up doing eccentric stuff- running away, not following rules, not taking medicines, playing dumb- intentionally and unintentionally- they do this not because they want to – but simply the situation has become so overwhelming to their minds that they no longer can cope with it and hence neither have a trusting bias or a doubting bias (if you have one of these biases you can be managed and cured by developing an alternative narrative- but when you keep switching fast between the narratives- you end up becoming a living nightmare for the world – far worse then the battles against a virus! So what’s the way ahead and how do we make most of a situation which gets labelled as “Isolation”
One way, is to change the narrative from the word itself-instead of calling it Isolation- Call it “Time for personal investment”- a time to invest into yourself – to develop your personal strengths, learn to do away with your fears (demons in your head) and your weaknesses, a time to pursue something your daily routine and rush of life kept you away from (as long as it can be pursued within the confines of being isolated- I am not suggesting someone to pick up a guitar and arrange for live concert- rather pick it up and upload a video online!). This “Me time” can be used to assess your priorities in light of the new vulnerabilities that the world is bring to you- maybe you need to move to a new place- maybe you need to reassess the job you do – maybe you need to learn how to be strong and focused by yourself to keep you safe and maybe its time for you to realize that “Life cant and should not be taken for granted”! Once we flip our view of isolation and start to fill it with the books we needed to read, the films that we wanted to watch, the chats that we wanted to have with our friends, the peace that we would have wanted to hold within or as simple as the afternoon nap that you wanted to have in so many years- just seek what was amiss from your busy life and let this curse of isolation be turned into a blessing in disguise and use it to your advantage so that we the crisis is finally over and you emerge- you emerge as a person changed for good – who now values each moment of life in a more meaningful and mindful way- and possibly by then you know what wise issues you should engage with and when you should walk way from what doesn’t make you feel enriched and a better person!
I leave you with these thoughts on a Monday, wherever you are reading this, no matter how isolated you are, now you know how to make isolation work for you! Remember it is not the Isolation that hurts, it is the fear of missed opportunities and lack of connect that troubles us- because we tend to have a fear of missing out the social beacons (which we normally use as our glide path as we navigate around society!). Once you have reached deep within yourself and re-assessed your priorities- thanks to the available time through isolation- you will no longer be in search of beacons and will most probably end up being a light house for others in the society to follow!
Ciao for now, grab that drink and stay wise! Run wild with your thoughts and imagination and pursue your dreams- for this is the time to build upon your strengths, dreams and ideas and these will come alive eventually as you sustain and their time arrives!