Like most of us, I anticipated 2020 with a sense of excitement; a new decade, a fresh start, an unread chapter. I couldn’t wait to make my mark in the world, no matter how big or small, and stepped into the year with the unwavering belief that it was going to be a ‘good one.’ Though of course, what makes one person’s year ‘good’ might differ to that of another’s, but due to the societal expectations we are all accustomed to, I’m inclined to believe that our conceptions of a ‘good year’ all share a common thread.
What might such a year look like, then? For many of us, it might include excelling in one’s career, earning a certain amount of money, or buying the things we have always dreamed of owning. All of these seem desirable, yes, but only against the backdrop of the type of world we live in today-a world ruled by capitalism, consumerism, and a ‘want more’ mindset that has embedded itself into the forefront of our thinking. Our understanding of success has become synonymous with climbing a financial and social ladder, value is found in how much something costs rather than how it makes us feel, and whether it’s the latest iPhone or fashion trend we have a tendency to fill inner voids through materialistic means.
This is how we currently move through this world, and I personally can’t help but acknowledge this reality with some feelings of discontent. Where is our sense of wonder? Why is having more a sign of accomplishment? Since most of us are constantly striving forward, often on auto-pilot, it becomes difficult to develop a sense of self-awareness, to pause for a moment and ask ourselves this: can I be doing anything differently?
However, given recent events, perhaps we have the opportunity to do just that.
Adversity can exist alone, but it can also exist alongside fortune. There is no denying the fact that, globally, we are currently experiencing the most adverse of times. The Coronavirus crisis has shifted the world into a state of pandemonium, and rightly so; lives have been lost, people are losing their jobs, supermarket shelves are being cleared out. The seriousness of the crisis is undeniable, and with heightened levels of uncertainty and anxiety it is easy to focus only on the negatives. And yet, despite the panic, can we find a silver lining in all of this? Yes. I think we can.
With many of us retreating inwards, away from the noise of the city and the busy offices and commutes, we no longer find ourselves in a state of constant flow. Instead, we’re being advised to pause, to enter into a newfound stillness, and with stillness comes the opportunity to reflect. Now, perhaps this notion of ‘stillness’ comes to me from a place of privilege; I don’t have children, no one else is dependent on me for their livelihood, time seems to be on my side. But even so, having spent the best part of March behind closed doors I’ve started to feel a shift in my perspectives, and maybe some will resonate with you also.
Society has reinforced the idea that we should all adopt a ‘hustle and grind’ mentality; those who have it are rewarded for their hard work, and contentment and success, it seems, is to be found in the financial incentives for our productivity. Our time in stillness, however, has the power to challenge this view. It can teach us to find happiness in the simplest of things, whether that’s journaling, reading, basking in the sun or sipping coffee in the morning, and can bring to our awareness the idea that success doesn’t have to be understood in terms of attainment, but rather in our ability to take advantage of today. What can we do today that makes us feel good? Ambition, drive and goals are all important, but when we’re caught up in the rat race it is easy to disregard the significance of everyday mundanities.
Dancing, singing, making, and storytelling are all things that come naturally to us, but since we idolise those who do them well we often shy away from even attempting them ourselves. In this time we have now, maybe we could learn to invest in these things not for approval or following, but simply because they fuel a part of us that has remained dormant for so long. Maybe we could learn to put just as much effort into our ‘downtime’ as we do with our professional endeavours. Maybe we could learn to value creativity, nature, and life’s simplicities in the same way we do a paycheck at the end of the month. And, if we do learn to do these things then, once this is all over and done with, maybe we’ll come out the other end changed for the better.
Credit featured photo: unsplash.com – kelly sikkema