You will probably start off by floundering a bit, processing this time of lockdown as a bit of a novel experience, not really knowing what to do, how this will play out and what consequences will flow from it. That’s pretty much a normal response because you and I have no prior reference or context for any of this. Our subconscious mind is working overtime, grappling to comprehend and process it all. What’s really happening is that we are trying to find patterns in the chaos. It’s a survival strategy where we try to make meaning of the meaningless. It’s like pouring out all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on the table and starting the daunting task of putting them all together to make up the bigger picture. Right now, you and I are at the very beginning of this process – we’re flattening out the pile of thousands of pieces of wiggly-edged cardboard, making sure that all of them have their picture side facing up. It’s a small beginning but that’s the way it must be. It’s daunting. It’s even a bit frightening. It is certainly overwhelming.
Here’s the first bit of advice: start doing these small, seemingly insignificant things without delay, being very careful not to get trapped in inactivity, like the bunny frozen on the road in the headlights of the oncoming car. We don’t have a lid to this box so we don’t know what kind of picture we are building. All we can do is go for the easy things first – the four corner pieces. I find myself chatting to others, getting a sense of camaraderie from family and friends. Learning that that my approach to this crisis is in line with what others are doing. It is perfectly natural that we take cues from others to help us formulate and strategise what course of action we should be taking. You and I are going to have a bit of a herd-mentality for a while. We will want to follow the crowd because it is the safest place for us to be. We seek leadership and direction.
We shall become (in fact we probably already are) very suggestible and malleable in this early phase and it is very easy for us to mop up a sense of fear and panic from the crowd and it is easy to develop a doomsday sense of hopelessness and despair. Please, I urge you to resist this at all costs. If you find yourself being overwhelmed by this then reach out to somebody you trust who can offer you an arm to lean upon. Listen to others and take advice from them provided it is not sensational, false (we’ve seen a lot of fake news that ignites panic), harmful or manipulative. One of the news headlines this morning warned that those in power use opportunities like this to seize more power. We immediately think of autocratic politicians when we read a headline like this but sadly, it applies to unethical religious leaders, psychopaths who create and spread fake news and it will also happen in one’s social circles where some may have a tendency to bully their way forward.
This is a time to look for out for sensible advice, strategies based on solid science, good leadership and to rely on trusted friends. Spend the next day or so scratching through the pieces looking for those puzzle corners, the few things you can do now that lay a foundation and set in place the proper framework for the weeks to come. I cannot give you advice about tomorrow because I too haven’t gotten there yet but I’m absolutely certain that while this may test us to the limits, we shall come out of this in remarkable ways that we cannot now imagine.
Keep hope, act slowly and sensibly, be safe, create trusted bonds with others, be selfless while looking after yourself and others.