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The greatest teacher, one month of shelter-in-place is…

[ First of all, my heart goes out to those families that are affected directly by COVID-19 either suffering loss of loved ones or have had go through monumental stress of recovering from the challenging times. This article aims to resonate with the other majority of generic population (who are just dealing with the new normal of work-from-home) to encourage a little more positivity in how we approach the new normal … ]

 

April 6th (the day I am writing this)…. Exactly one month since the official email from D J Paoni  (President , SAP North America) announcing the recommendation of Work from Home in Bay area offices was rolled out on March 6th…

Little did we know then, that the temporary work from home arrangement would become the new normal for days and weeks (and may be months?)  to come.

But little did we all know then too, that the experiences, the rollercoaster of emotions and the unforeseen adaptations we were all doing to weather the tide of this “new normal” was going to touch our lives in positive ways too, teaching us some incredible lessons.

A greatest teacher, one month of work-from-home is….

(COVID-19 had served as our wise Yoda, in a sense!)

Taking things for granted:  Being in the Bay Area, I realized I have taken many, many little things for granted (even without realizing). A whole month of shelter-in-place/work-from-home has bluntly exposed the indifference I had to those things, until a month ago. Never have I stopped to think how many people’s services and sacrifices it involves to get things to doorstep, the USPS mail, the newspaper I get at the door, even the amazon prime orders, the grocery store staff that stock the shelves every single day all through the year, the truck drivers that are on road away from their families so our families can find grocery at stores, the umpteen hours of service hours and meticulousness that the teachers that teach my kids school put in every day, the bus driver that got my kids safely home every single day, the thousands of invisible cleaning staff that made sure the doors we touch and the places we work in are cared for every single day, not just during these challenging times, but throughout the year. Thankfully, this month was huge eye opener, those little things will be looked up on with a renewed admiration and thankful attention.

Taking family members for granted:  In the hustle of the Bay Area’s fast paced life, little did each member of family have time to listen to each other, especially when one is not being asked by another to listen! Shelter-in-place has taught me to listen, notice, appreciate the different personalities that my kids are growing into, the different perspectives about things my spouse appreciates, the delicate sensitivities among some family members that were not obvious all along, all because I have been taught (by current the situation) to listen to my own family members when they were not expecting me to (as in normal times)!  It’s a beautiful lesson to me, one that’s missed in the hustle of daily life. I plan to stick to this newly formed habit, long after the new-normal is gone.

Slowing down to nurture self:  If you asked any adult (not just in the Bay Area), some joys/talents that they either enjoyed growing up or knew they liked but didn’t have opportunity to nurture as a kid, you will be likely to get at least one thing from everybody. This new normal, has done just that. I have been fortunate to be able to revive my interest in painting and it has also given time to rekindle my passion for instrumental music – and not just giving me courage to try a new instrument, but learning from my high schooler. Natural bonding is an added bonus – ask any teenager’s parent how disgusting that would sound to their kid otherwise ;). Zero commute has now enabled me to stick to regular surya-namaskaras (a morning yoga routine)

Learning to connect: Contrary to my original prediction about my iPhone usage hours going up during shelter in place, my iPhone now reports an average decrease of one hour from my daily usage a month ago. This is strange because I know that I am now connecting to extended family more, to my parents more, and to my neighbors in need of help more than before the shelter in place one month ago. I have learned that my phone’s usage has now just shifted to a more meaningful cause than the mindless browsing and email catch up I used to do earlier.

Learning to manage time better:  I think this one, any coworker couldn’t agree more. With the number of meetings at work increased to at least two-fold since a month ago and little distractions at home competing with work schedules, one month of this new-normal has taught me to brutally manage time much better than before. There’s no other way! This one month has taught us all to push boundaries and to accommodate more in less.

Learning to respect some old practices: This one is special to me. I grew up in India but have lived half my life here in the West and I am now starting to think about and respect some traditional practices from my culture that seem to make complete sense in this Covid times. ‘Namaste’, an Indian greeting that literally means ‘bowing to you’, says it all (and is a sudden life saver that can be used in place of a hug and handshake!). The wisdom of Yoga, the fact that turmeric garlic and ginger are now so prevalent around the world for health and healing. I am newly intrigued to learn the science behind many ancient Indian practices, including the age-old practice of thoroughly washing hands (and legs) after coming home from playing outside, routinely mandated at our homes while growing up, day in and day out. All this makes complete sense to me now and can be so relevant at any age!

Nature & Neighbors: A month of re-learning to connect with community has given a fresh sense of energy and spirit. Before these challenging times, some of us may not have even had gotten to know our neighbors, let alone having empathy for them (I certainly was part of that pile ). But the change of events in the past month, even the sloppy handmade mask I made this past weekend with my old sewing machine meant so much to my newly befriended neighbor who will use it gladly. I learnt no matter what, we all have something to share with every human being. I found out that even an ear to listen, a hopeful message was all that was needed, that some people appreciated during the tough times. I have learnt that tragedy and challenges can connect communities

I have learnt while looking out the window as I work from home that the simple joys of watching the branches of tree swaying outside in wind, watching squirrels fight for acorns in tree and seeing the hailstorm rain in April are not just for kids, it’s for the kid in all of us, and it never fails to enthrall us, no matter how old one gets !

[ Again, as I stated earlier, my empathy goes out to some families, as I understand the lessons learned by some of them in the past month may be much worse, much harder, much troubling  than the subject I took for the ‘perspective’ article above and may be the greatest test of their lives yet, that I cannot even comprehend. So my sincere apologies in advance! ]

Let the force (of patience and health) be with all of us. the greatest teacher, shelter-in-place definitely is….

Stay Safe !

 

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