Not since World War II. That phrase or its variations have been used repeatedly to describe this pandemic. Major media outlets such as the BBC and world leaders like the UN chief call this pandemic the most significant challenge since the last war. Prolonged recession threatens global and national economies. Scores of corporations are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Futurists are predicting that an entirely new world order will arise out of the ashes of Covid-19.
On a personal level, I hope more than two months of quarantine have forced us to take stock of what really matters in life. For sure, there are several lessons we can take forward as we slowly emerge out of our hiatus.
One lesson that I can take away is that we can simplify our lives. Before the quarantine, there are many things we thought we could not live without. To some, this could be spending time at the mall, or hanging out in coffee shops. To others, it may be their daily athletic pursuits or regular time with their “barkadas”. All these are not bad in themselves (I do most of them!). However, quarantine has made me realize that not a few of them are truly essential.
In other words, we can simplify our lives if we want to. It may have come as a pleasant surprise that what we considered essential pre-quarantine are, in fact, superfluous. Indeed, a lot of things in our lives are noise and clutter. They blind us to the more critical realities of life.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting we do away with the spices of life. For certain, our lives are richer because of our hobbies and interests. But we must not confuse the major with the minor.
The apostle Paul knew that a single minded-focus is essential when he said, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b,14).
The forced hiatus from “normal” life reminds us that few things are genuinely meaningful in life.