I am not and never have been the type to 'have it all together' when crisis strikes. I have always been the type to fall apart though I never show it. I tend to implode before I decide to pull myself together and move forward.
When the Coronavirus news reports were going around in Jan and Feb, I had to repeatedly tell myself that this would be over soon to be able to get out of bed and function normally.
When the first COVID 19 case in Bangalore was reported in the news on 8-9 Mar, my heart sank. I knew then that I’d have to get real about this thing. It was a long way from over.
When denial didn't work, I seemed to take comfort in becoming hyper aware. I started to read endlessly about the active cases, the lethality rate, the virology and possible cures.
I had hoped to find comfort in data. I thought if I knew enough I'd find a silver lining, no matter how thin, and that would be enough to help me tide through this.
What I didn't fully grasp was the inherent uncertainty of this situation.
There are so many questions that probably no one on the planet can answer confidently.
When will the pandemic end?
How much longer should we stay at home?
Are my sniffles a sign of the regular flu or the novel coronavirus?
How am I supposed to cope with the markets being so overwhelmed?
What happens to my family if I get the virus?
We're almost at the end, right? Right?
All these questions are just asking one thing:
Am I and the people I care about most going to make it through this in one piece?
If only there was a way to answer this question.
No one knows the answer. No supercomputer can tell you for sure. You and I can sit here isolated in separate rooms and try and work out the odds but really who are we kidding?
Maybe there's really no meaning for us to sit here spinning our wheels about what is to come. The things that we can do to better our odds of survival are staying home, practicing social distancing and being alert to the additional precautions and measures that will be announced.
I've discovered that having fancy degrees and tons of money in the bank does very little to alleviate the fear.
In extraordinary times like these the only real currency is fortitude. This quiet ability to fully understand what might come and not be reduced to a panicky mess while dreading it.
And the most beautiful thing about this is that mental fortitude can be cultivated. It seems to grow very well when were under pressure and under duress - times like the ones we find ourselves in.
Fortitude keeps one eye on all the things that leave you vulnerable, like the state of healthcare in your country, the economy collapsing, even the supplies and rations drying out around you.
But it's keen gaze is trained upon so many things that you have control over to brave through this situation.
The fact that you can read this means you're not infected and you have enough resources to get enough food and water for the foreseeable future. Sure there's some degree of distress but right now at this present moment you still have something that so many others don't have - a way to pay the bills, a roof above your head, a way to eat three square meals a day and the luxury to stay home and watch TV and have a meltdown like this.
No one's got a gun pointed at you. Sure if it feels like there's a war going on but it's a different kind of warfare.
This is as much a battle your mind has to face as your body.
As with any battle there are a lot of unknowns. There's no choice but to accept what we don't know but there's certainly no reason to let this uneasiness evolve into a panic where you play a montage of the worst possible scenarios inside your mind. There's no need to suffer more in imagination than in reality.
As anticlimactic as it may seem, the best possible thing to do right now is to not venture outside. Maybe it's time to get a grip on the mind so that the mind doesn't venture into grotesque fantasies of all that this situation can turn into. It's bad enough that we may have to face it if it comes to pass but to have to suffer within the confines of the mind before that robs you of whatever little joy you could find in the chirping of the birds, the sound of music you can hear and the companionship of the people you're around.
Train your mind to see the good, the bad and the ugly exactly as they are. This neutrality...almost feels passive and is hard to do when we're restless.
But do it anyway.
Fall out of rhythm and get back to it.
Resist the urge to panic. Don't slink into despair, guard your resolve and even-mindedness because that's the only thing that can increase your odds of making it through this thing.