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Serenity found in pandemic

by John Dickson
in Health

Is COVID-19 reminding us of something lost?

The habits of modern lifestyle in North America do not change easily. A powerful force must strike us before changes are seen as mandatory.

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic – with over two million lives lost in nine months is that frightening wake-up call. But, will there be any lasting change in lifestyle after the crisis passes?

Pace of the Modern World

Before the COVID-19 virus, the consensus was clear that we were living too high. Many even agree that we have sold our inner selves to full-speed at any cost:

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  • high productivity goals;
  • 24/7 online connectivity;
  • greed (money as king);
  • far less concern for others; and
  • lives of deceit.

These are tough thoughts. Are we really that lost?

Our lifestyle is the result of “time is money” thinking. The pace of the modern, commercial world requires that goals be met; otherwise, you can be easily replaced in the office/plant/jobsite.

Wasting time is judged as lost time everywhere we look. A good friend once relayed an airport experience that illustrate this point.

At LaGuardia Airport, an announcement relayed the news that his flight would be delayed by two to three hours due to weather conditions. Most of the 120-plus passengers moaned and complained about their precious lost-time for the next two or more hours. Instead, my friend found a quieter spot and read a book for the entire period. Indeed, time well spent.

“Modern Pandemic” Creates Frenzied Lifestyle

The speed of business has injected a conscious awareness that hours cannot be wasted, since this reflects badly on an individual.

Being a slave to our laptops and iPhones is another “modern pandemic” that requires constant connectivity to the e-noise that engulfs our commercial and social worlds. It’s part of our pace of life and the false need to fill every moment with seemingly important usage of time – meaning a text/email message every 10 to 15 minutes about “something.”

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Foolishly, over time, we have created a frenzied lifestyle in which not one hour is to be wasted – everything is urgent. A slow walk in the park/forest without our cell phones in our pockets or a quiet dinner with zero connection to the grid are, for most of us, still abnormal events.

But that madcap lifestyle was before the detection and spread of the coronavirus, agreed?

Pandemic Brings New Perspective to Speed of Business

Dangerous events can change much more than our habits. Lives are lost and a new perspective on what is vitally important could come into focus and, hopefully, any major shockwave will have a lasting effect on much of society.

If a range of age groups can re-think, re-jig, reprioritize the key elements of daily life, we will create a more empathetic community of kinder humans.

Is this a simplistic dream with no realistic future (Lennon’s lyric … “a brotherhood of man”)? Will we no longer be slaves to the immediacy of daily must-do-goals, or will we have smart phones permanently welded to our asses and, thereby, care only about our own needs, not others. Can we become free from the constant stimulation from the external world we live in – for even a few hours every day?

With the virus as a disquieting factor, many of us at home have more privacy. (Excluded here are the thousands of us on long-term layoff, our dedicated heroic workers in health care, grocery/drug store staff, delivery truck drivers, lab technicians, teachers, vaccine/medical researchers, all parents with young children, and those with elderly relatives needing constant help.)

This forced change affords us a rare opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and as a society. Hopefully, this change comes with long-term results, not just for another few months … but for years.

Find Serenity Now

While it’s true that this terrible disaster has freed many of us (temporarily) from the prison of speed-driven schedules, what can actually be gained from a calmer lifestyle? As George’s father on Seinfeld once barked, “Serenity now!” But, do we even want that quieter state of mind?

Some believe there’s a need to replenish the mind by doing nothing in particular, by taking long breaks without a destination and, thereby, finding a few quiet moments away from the world’s noise.

Resting the mind creates periods of calm. This truism has been recognized for thousands of years – think Buddhist monks.

What will you accomplish by being alone with your thoughts? Let your mind wander and, for once, take time to think about what you and those closest to you believe in.

Goals and Happier Perspectives beyond COVID

Today in 2020/2021, at least for a few more months, many of us have the chance to slow down. In normal times, there’s been little opportunity to do so – even temporarily!

For those who now continue their working life online at home, schedules have become more flexible. Perhaps for the first time ever, we suddenly have pockets of unstructured, free-floating moments of time.

Use those hours to consider new personal goals and happier perspectives beyond the coronavirus. Begin to discover what really matters! It’s important but never easy.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Ashleigh Weeden’s article: The only way out is through, and the only way through is together. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.


John Dickson is a writer and creative business consultant. His career path has included federal government positions (Ottawa-Hull), management roles at Nortel (London), provincial tourism departments, and SM Ontario enterprises.

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