In the light of corona – Part 21: Catching breath

I was actually going to write about killing a company, and got half way through before looking out the window. It’s sunny, it’s summer – and more than summer, it’s MIDSUMMER.

I stopped. Yes, I do think the euthanasia discussion to be of value, but the glance outside made me rethink: at the current stage of all we’ve gone through this spring, with the summer creeping on half unacknowledged (by me at least), there are better things to be thinking and doing right now. So, instead of diving into the deep waters of difficult decisions, I’ll take a few leisurely strokes in the warm shallow waters, and make a nice numbered list of the top-of-the-mind themes stuck to my consciousness after surviving this year thus far. 

1. Wisdom of airplane safety instructions

“Put the mask on first on your own face, and help others then.” I don’t remember the actual line verbatim (after all, it’s been a while since I’ve boarded a plane…), but this sentence is a pure golden nugget of deep wisdom. 

The ones of us having responsibilities that stretch beyond our imminent personal existence (and I think this applies to, if not all, the huge majority of us), have found our responsibilities to become even weightier this spring. We humans vary in our disposition in terms of how natural it is to put the needs of other in front of the needs of our own, but anyone of us having any compassion cannot have escaped the sentiments of needing to take care of those afflicted worse by the pandemic and its countermeasures. In addition, leapfrogging into the next stage in all things digital, has taken its toll for the most of us. 

I do believe that the ones capable of bearing burdens should help carry the burdens of ones more easily crushed under them. The thing, however, is that none of us can bear carrying heavy burdens all the time – and when the strong break, who picks up the pieces?

If you haven’t done so, now is the time to let go (even momentarily) to take a deep breath of the oxygen mask on your face. And if you haven’t even located one, now is the time to start looking: what gives you joy? What relaxes you? What re-energizes you, makes you tick? 

This is the time for selfishness, which is the most selfless thing you can do. For the moment, the world is standing more still than for a while – take this pause to do all that you need to do in order to make you feel well. You are needed, but later, and at your strongest. 

2. The new normal has not arrived

This is a good time for taking deep breaths. In Finland it seems that the worst, in terms of both the corona virus and the restrictions, is for the moment over, and we’re all hoping that this is not merely the tranquil eye of the storm.

However, we don’t really know how the fall or the next year(s) will look like. Even in the best case scenario of having beaten the pandemic, the ripple effects of the months past will be reverberating for quite some time still. In the worse scenarios, we won’t have entered the rebuilding era yet, but must still continue living in uncertainty, muddling on as best we can. 

This makes it even more essential for us to seize the opportunities granted by summer to recuperate, to revitalize ourselves. But at the same time, we should approach this respite as a time to reflect and create such routines that will sustain us also in the future potential turbulence. Only few of us are comfortable living a life of a rollercoaster ride where the peaks of expending highly straining effort intermingle with the low points of energy restoration – this HIIT model of life suits but few. The rest have to figure out a way of constantly balancing the external and internal requirements in the daily lives.

A task for the summer: how would your ideal day look like in fall, if the events of the spring were to repeat themselves? How could you design your days in ways that allow you enough time for taking care of yourself – in addition to the other responsibilities you might have prioritized this spring?

3. Give kindness and goodness a chance

Weird times bring out the best and worst in us humans. As anyone who has ever tended someone really ill can profess, suffering quite rarely makes us nobler. At the same time, even in worst times the inherent kindness of us humans has a way of shining through. 

There are few instructions that anyone could give to how to go about pursuing any of the goals you find important in uncertainty. However, there is a golden guideline: in all your actions, be kind and strive for good. If you are faced with a difficult decision, trying to predict the outcomes based on diverse calculations is often more futile than using a simple, value-grounded question to navigate the next leg: which of the alternatives I right now realistically have is the most kind to the most entities involved? 

I know there is wisdom in the saying of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions, however not having even the good intentions speeds us to hell on a slide. The benefit of a slowly traversable road is the fact, that after each twist, we can see more of where we are headed, and can make the decision of choosing an alternative route, going to another direction. 

Take care, of yourself and others – enjoy the midsummer!


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