As humans, we like to have control of the things to come. We make plans for the next hours, days, months, and years. There was a lesson in 2020 and the pandemic on the fragility of our planning. For sure, God has His plans for us and the life we live. In decades of short term programs set for individual and collective causes, when the virus came, we had few alternatives but to choose. Pandemics are not new; there was the Spanish flu there before the Covid-19. When science took us to unprecedented levels of controlling life with technology, we learned that there is a limit on how much we can control things to come.
1. New Year resolutions: Plans stretching for the next twelve months are to be made, considering nothing getting done at all. 2020 has taught resilience over failures; life goes on if one is alive. Where and how do we plan? 2021 Google calendar might be a better way to set the days for personal and formal events, for it is easier to delete or replace with new inputs on the digital world. Each day of the online calendars might include a new option with the subtitle, "Subject to change." Handwritten plans are likely to be challenging to keep tidy if significant changes take place. There is a limit to using whiteners or erasing when making a change with pen and paper. The online way to work through life would be a must-know if one wished to evolve with life.2. Home-wise 1: Getting married in 2021 will be tricky if a significant and in-person presence is required. There is no guarantee that people will be moving like the pre-Covid-19 days. Perhaps Zoom will be a safer choice or have a small family wedding where safety measures are easier to maintain. And of course, eloping has been an option for eons. In these times of the pandemic, it might be the simplest way to take the vows. After all, what matters, in the end, is that the people in love are united.
3. Home-wise 2: Family planning is yet another challenge to face in the coming times. As Susana, a bank employee in Dhaka, says, "I was married in 2018 and planned to start a family in 2020, but with the pandemic put it on hold. Now I have no idea about 2021. How will my stress affect my baby even while I am pregnant?" Women's usual preference for motherhood is the age of 30 to 35. With the pandemic pause in their everyday life, many are concerned about bypassing their safe motherhood age choices.
4. Building a Home: A house becomes a home with the love it holds. With job losses and financial hardships, fewer people will be going for homebuilding projects. Millions had to give up their rented places and move to the villages or more affordable housing as the income spiraled down. Love holds the family members together as they hope for better days when life will get back to normalcy. Perhaps it is wiser not to invest in big money until the world is stable.
5. Education and youths: The youth front who were preparing to enter the big world with jobs and settling down are in rough seas. In the pre-pandemic days, they had an idea of where the shores were, many were confident of where to anchor, but since Covid-19 entered the scenario, there is confusion on directions. The world of the 21st century moves on schedules, plans of long and short times. A total knew the way for the younger generation growing up in mapped out future in the present confused world. While online learning has caught up with the quarantine of 2020, practical life has to be incorporated. A kid needs practical knowledge of how the tree grows from seed by working with the soil. The option is to keep the youths safe within health regulations, pause in planning, and wait for a vaccine.
6. Health: In the pre-pandemic days, we became couch potatoes by choice; the long hours of sitting jobs for online work are like feeding the fire. Some forms of exercise, freehand or machine-aided, put it in the daily-weekly routine. The need for physical activity and freshness is always there, but there is a good old walk that benefits the body and the soul. Stress in the pandemic world has gripped humans like an invisible octopus and threatens to take us down. Practising mindfulness or restarting an old hobby might be a way to keep our thought process straight.
Although a vaccine has arrived for the Covid-19, when and how it can reach the people in nooks and corners of the world, people would not get sufficient outdoor activities. There is a saying, "We are what we eat." And so the food needs to be planned on their nutritional values: less of the harmful fats or carbohydrates and more of what keeps us healthy. It is always wiser to check with the doctor when there is a health concern and proceed with caution.7. Environment: Pandemics are not new, we had them before, and most likely, there will be more after Covid-19. One cannot help wondering if we contribute to it with the environmental pollution we humans create. The universe is a delicately balanced life in which we breathe, the Earth a planet that works so miraculously while moving around the sun. There are facts beyond our knowledge that keeps life on the Earth alive and reasons why death occurs. All the water we pollute, the air and the soil: all have a life of their own. Is the pandemic nature's way of creating its balance?. As Samuel Butler has said, "Human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning." Here are responsibility is to keep the morning dew alive and the rain giving us life.
8. Endless planning: Humans are said to be list maniacs, a creature that loves to add their choices to long lists, the must-dos' and the things to do. Whether it is 2021 or the year after, we think there might already be a listing order working within us. The on-going pandemic has jolted and awakened us with the reality of how quickly and unpredictably life can end. It seems we spend too much of our lifetime on making things for the long years ahead when there is no promise of a long life, not to mention no permanent one at all. To plan a more straight year might be a safer way, and even that would be sealed with the label, "If we can and Proceed with caution."
May 2021 carry silver linings to all lives, big and small.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA.