The COVID-19 crisis found me in the beautiful Pokhara of Nepal. I was enjoying the serene background, hiking up the cliffs and hills on weekends, planning when I would go to the jungle, while on weekdays I was starting at my new job with a local NGO and planning my activities there. In early March, all the discussion about Corona spreading started getting more intense. People were optimistic in Nepal. I had a great disbelief about the verdict that there was only one case that survived it. I believe that also local people deep down shared my doubts. At some point the local government started creating a plan how to deal with cases if they arrive.
Days went by and the tourists started getting fewer and fewer. I could still enjoy less crowded walks at the lake, but soon these became lonely walks. My friends from Europe decided to go back, my NGO started searching for food and gas supplies for the shelter we run, while we were all wondering what will happen when the virus comes to us. I was instructed to start working from home most of the day, but, a few days later, I was called to leave Pokhara and go to the capital, so I would have support from my team there. At this time, the NGO was desperately looking for supplies of gas. Luckily, we still had food. The day after I flew to the capital, the airports closed down and the country went into lock-down, just like so many other countries.
One week later, I had to say goodbye to Kathmandu and fly back to what people call “my home.” As a parenthesis, I am wondering, for a nomad soul, what “home” really is? Too big of a discussion for here. Regardless, the decision from my employer, was to reach where my nationality is. I thought, it’s a good time to stay there and care for my older family, by offering my company and help, while they care for me, by offering house and food. It didn’t happen… The airports are locked and a few chartered flights that have been under planning for weeks now, will only take the sick and the vulnerable. Therefore, I am here, hiding from the virus, in isolation, in an apartment in Athens.
Maybe the stories of other nomads will match mine. Maybe we do need to reach back “home” when we are in a crisis, whatever home is. Or others might have chosen to stay at the place they happened to be when everything locked down, but what happens when the visa expires? Things are complicated at this time. My thought and wish is, no matter where this crisis finds us, we all focus on staying healthy and on adapting. This adaptation is something I don’t see.
All the time, I hear a lot of advice about how to keep productive, how to keep interacting with people in lock-down, how to maintain our fitness and physical and mental health, how to do remote working. This sounds like a process of changing our everyday life to adapt to demands, but it is not what it is. What I observe, is an acceptance of this experience as a temporary thing that once it passes, we will go again in the streets and continue our life as before, as normal.
What we do is to retreat to a behavior, we humans know well; resistance to change. We expect that this will pass and life will be what we knew it to be, with a minor or major effect on our economies. We don’t foresee much of a change on our daily lives. As a human, I do wish that this is true, but as an observant and psychologically minded person, I expect a drastic change.
That’s why, I would like to call people to be aware of what is currently going on. What we experience now, IS life. It’s not a just a break from it. Live it, just like every other day and earn from it as you earn from other days. Observe what is happening. Observe your bodily and emotional reactions to the current situation. Do not worry about keeping things the same, they cannot be. Focus on adapting. Be ready to mourn what will be lost and be ready to create a new life, which can be better than the one we had before. All my plans for Pokhara had to be changed. Then, my plans for caring for my family were changed. Now, I am isolated, but I can drink my morning coffee looking at where democracy was born, in Acropolis, instead of waiting for days to pass to reach in Cyprus. I get to live in Athens and experience isolation and quarantine. This is my life today. And I am ready for my life tomorrow. It’s very uneasy to not know what tomorrow will bring, but that’s what we are called to do now. Adapt to it the best you can.
Stay safe, physically and mentally healthy and psychological alert and observant.