Finding Peace in Quarantine

Such is the way of human nature to make meaning in everything. The existential question of Why never ceases to arise in times of war, death, genocide, and viral pandemics (It’s not without noting that when good things happen, we often accept them willingly and gladly, not thinking much beyond believing we deserve them). Meaning making may cause us a lot of anguish as most atrocities don’t have simple answers, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s the poet in all of us that seeks to understand in an effort to lift up what is still good and worth hoping for. It drives our will to live.

These are the kinds of thoughts I’m having these days, nearly a month in to an isolated quarantine due to the current pandemic of COVID-19. I’ve had plenty of time to muse, mull, and think, because my days have been suddenly stripped of all the duties and activities I’m used to fulfilling and that I, foolishly, have let define me. Because without my job, who am I really? That’s the first thing people ask, so it must be the most important. Too often I use the things that I have achieved to fill up my sense of self, and I’m not even some overachiever.

So for a while I panicked. How will I make money? When will I be able to make money again? What is going to happen to my job, to me, to my family, to people with families to feed, to people whose home isn’t actually a safe place, to people who don’t have a home at all? And once my thoughts started to shift from selfishness to thinking about others, I started to let gratitude in. What is it about losing things that makes us suddenly thankful for what we have left? Never before have I been so profusely appreciative of my body that carries me, my wits that keep me safe and inside, and my mind that enriches and strengthens me. Now I count my blessings as a forethought instead of an afterthought, because frankly, I have all the time in the world to be thankful.

Times are undoubtedly scary. Over a million people worldwide have or have had a confirmed case of corona virus, while thousands upon thousands have died. The fear of becoming sick is upon us all, as the virus does not discriminate upon race, ethnicity, income, or socioeconomic background (though these communities will suffer the most). Frustratingly, we cannot join together in the streets to fight this virus and the injustice that its effects painfully highlight. This fight is about being alone and going within to do the absolute best for humanity.

With a surplus of time comes a surplus of room to watch the news, scroll through phones, and fret over what is already happening and what is yet to come. Instead of flooding my body with the fear of uncertainty, I’m trying to rest with the certainty of uncertainty. This is what life teaches us in every moment but we strive to ignore. This is how the universe moves and works. Nothing is ever still; nothing will always be, except for being, in some form or another.

I’ve slowed down in quarantine- there really hasn’t been any other choice. I’ve taken time to write, read, sleep, relax. I’m listening to my body more than ever before by feeling out my moods and letting my thoughts run over and through my mind like streams of water over pebbles worn smooth.

Quarantine is full of ironies. It begs us to isolate in order to strengthen our unity and relax in the notion that nothing is guaranteed. This time has also stripped away my ‘purpose’ to reveal my Purpose. I am here to breathe. On a deeply spiritual level, if you all are with me on this, what else does the universe really ask of us? The act of breathing is so simple, so pure and innate that we overlook the miraculousness of the breath’s ability to control our mind and heal our bodies. Prana is the Sanskrit word for breath, but it also means vital principle or life force. To breathe is to live. Quarantine has taught me that that can be enough.

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