Chapter 17: Keeping grounded during the Corona madness

The Corona madness has reached Glasgow now too.

I went to my local supermarket this morning, only to find half of all shelves empty. Packs of people kept rushing in, all filling their shopping bags to the brim. It is hard to not give in to the hoarding myself. Seeing the shelves empty – no rice, no milk, no canned foods, thus, with seemingly every dry or frozen food item gone – anxiety rises. Even if I do not want to encourage fears possible starvation if I do not stockpile myself, I cannot help but paint apocalyptic scenarios. Yet, I have sworn myself that I will not become one of those hoarders. I do not want to hoard unnecessarily, taking away food from people who need it, and who need it probably more than I do, in fact. The last thing I want is to join the public panic, the mass hysteria. However, it is incredibly hard to remain calm in times like these when a pandemic has taken over.

The problem is that panic is more contagious and harmful than the virus itself. Anxiety, when escalated to panic, is very powerful. Panic eradicates any reason whatsoever and it takes over the controls in our brain. Panic only listens to emotion, reigning us through impulsive behaviour; if we are not careful, panic nests itself as parasite to our sense of humanitarianism. Watching the swarm of people raiding supermarkets and shops, it feels as if people turned into egoistic wolves overnight. One day to another, people became even more selfish than they were before already. Of course, not everyone acts that selfish, and it is good to see some of my friends promoting solidarity. Nevertheless, I still feel embarassed, but also concerned for my own species.

I have a hard time watching the Corona craziness like the one in the supermarket this morning because it makes me sad and angry. I have a hard time watching, processing, and coping with the behaviour I get to witness in my fellow humans. It truly scares me to see what irrational, fear-driven, and blind animals we become when our comfort is endangered. In fact, it scares me so much that part of me wishes I could escape this society. I do not want to live in a society that turns ugly as soon as the slightest sign of disruption hits it. Unfortunately, Corona has definitely brought and will continue bringing disruption into life as we know it.

Corona rattles us, waking us up from the sleep we have been lulled into by carefree routine. Corona demonstrates us how comfortable and lazy we have become. It reveals how much we depend on our luxurious Western life, our privilege of living in a First World country. The days where we had to fight for our daily survival are long gone. For sure, I am not keen for them to return. However, since many of us do not have to fight for survival anymore at all, we have lost all our ability to face a storm, to endure hardship, and to co-exist with uncertainty. I am including myself in this just as much as anybody around me.

Corona made me realise that I, just like others, am certainly relying on all my luxury that comes with living in a First World country. That includes my privilege to buy all food I want at whatever time I want it; I never had to starve ever – I mean I only saw a supermarket not fully stocked up once before during the Beast from the East. I also enjoy my luxury to freely travel around the word anytime; I was never forced to stay in my house, and I was never unable to leave the country. My dependency on my privileged, comfortable lifestyle is probably reflected the most by the fact that I cannot imagine my life without a gym that is open 7 days a week.

I shamefully admit that when I heard about the consequences of Corona, especially the Quarantine measures, the first thing that came to my mind was the fear of my gym closing. I am shocked to see what I apparently define as my biggest problem. I feel terribly guilty for thinking like this. At the same time, reflecting on my own entitled attitudes, motivates me to re-appraise my situation. I realise again what huge comfort I am blessed with  – comfort that I often take for granted. Therefore, I want to take Corona as an opportunity for me to refocus, be more grateful, become more mindful, and grow my resilience and flexibility.

To be honest with you, I struggle especially with the part of staying mindful during Corona. Being mindful means to live in the moment, stopping all worries, all thoughts – particularly the ones about the future – from intruding your inner peace. As you can imagine, this is very hard to practise in times of uncertainty and disruption. Corona prevents me from being mindful since it nourishes worries about what will come. Additionally, it does not help at all that news updates are available online every minute (although you would assume this should help with calming down your mind). But as online content changes rapidly, resulting in a sheer overload of information, it is extremely difficult to detach yourself from constantly checking the news. This, in turn, facilitates your worries.

So, even though you may believe that staying as up-to-date as you can will bring you ease of mind, it just feeds into your fear more. A good strategy would consequently be to distance yourself so much that you reach a healthy balance between staying informed about Corona and living plus enjoying every moment, while being considerate of others – in other words, being mindful.

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