This time last year very few people would have expected this. From the bustle of people going about their lives meeting with others, commuting to work and school each day, travelling up and down the country and overseas, and experiencing the atmosphere of crowds at special events. And now this. The contrast is stark. We are caged up at home like pets, let out once a day for exercise and fresh air, with many of the freedoms we have taken for granted whisked away from us just like that. It is so very different, and yet we know also, so very much necessary at this time. And so we adjust our lives and follow the rules because we instinctively know it is the right thing to do.
And as we change our lifestyles so dramatically we find we begin to slow down. It’s as if someone has pressed the pause button on our lives. We no longer rush from meeting to meeting and event to event like frantic hamsters in a cage. We no longer have the excuse that we can’t do something that is important to us because our calendar is full - our calendar has been erased at the blink of an eye. So how will this pause in our lives impact the way we perceive and utilise our lives when the world starts opening up again?
What if this time of enforced slowness triggered us to change our lifestyles for good? What if we stopped our desperate quest for more, faster and better - more money, more success, more power, more acclaim, more consumption, more possessions, more busyness, more worship of work above everything else? Could we apply the handbrake to a culture of more that subsumes much of what is good and worthy in this world? And could we make this a permanent shift?
Here’s the thing: Our relationships with ourselves (our values, purpose, spirituality, faith). Our relationship with each other (our partners, our children, our friends, our neighbours, our workmates, the dreaded “other”). Our relationship with our world (our environment and the creatures we share this earth with, our communities, our nations). It is these relationships that matter most.
My hope is that this time of pause will allow us to ponder and reflect the way we live our lives, as individuals and in community. If we are able to adapt to this period of enforced limitations on our freedom, will we realise we can also adapt our lives to pressing issues in our world? Will we learn that we can adapt to low carbon lifestyles for instance; to lifestyles that nourish the earth rather than plunder it; to power relations and economies that serve the people; to societies that distribute wealth, knowledge and resources in ways that enhance whole communities, not just individuals in it? We will likely need to take collective responsibility for those who have lost jobs and livelihoods, by sharing the burden and making sacrifices to our own incomes and lifestyles, in a community spirit of generosity towards each other.
At this critical junction in the history of our world, we have control over the choices we make. When the pause button is lifted we can choose to continue living our lives just like we always did - perhaps even bigger and faster than ever before. Or we can choose to live differently. What will you choose?
How will you use this time to reflect on your lifestyle and impact on the world?
What relationships do you want to spend more time cultivating?
What is one thing you will do differently when the world starts opening up again?