Dubai Diaries: How the pandemic taught us to let go
In the time of Covid, letting go is about cutting the cords with the saviour inside you, and realising the best you can do is help.
Peace and pandemic are at odds with each other. In the past year that we have been social distancing and Zoom-ing our way through life, I have heard spiels on how this has been a time for spiritual regeneration, how it has compelled us to pause and reflect. I never truly believed it. I often wondered if those who are battling for life in a Covid ward would think so. In the past week, six friends have called and mourned the loss of a dear one. What was once a horror story unfolding to faceless people has become the story of most households in today’s India. And for many of us NRIs, who have found a home away from home, but still have loved ones living and suffering in India, it is an emotional rollercoaster. You want to participate in the process of caregiving, you want to ensure your friends and family are alright, you want to know every detail of their progress. But distance has a way of thwarting those notions.
This week I learnt the hard lesson as my family back home was diagnosed with Covid-19. Almost as soon as the results came, my father called to check what he should or should not do (despite reading voraciously on the subject in the papers and social media). “Can we simply have bread and jam? We are too tired to cook,” he said. For every problem he meticulously cited, technology had answers. And even as I listed them out to him, I couldn’t help but feel something was amiss. My presence, my being there at home to ensure things were taken care of. Would things have been different had I been there? Would my parents not have contracted the virus? No. Then why was this sense of guilt so strong? Why did I feel I could change the course of things had I been there? More often than not, it’s the mind that plays the game. We all imagine ourselves to be superheroes and superheroines when it comes to those we love and care for. Sometimes, that saviour inside us sets unrealistic goals for us. So, now when I do think about it, I feel the virus — and its various strains — have held a mirror to our own limitations, but above all it has also taught us to let go.
Letting go is not apathy. Neither does it indicate resigned acceptance of life. It is about understanding ourselves in a world that has moved on to the ‘new normal’. It is about hoping for the best but also silently preparing for the worst. It’s about wrestling one’s own demons and reconciling with them. It’s about saving yourself too when you set out to save someone. To interpret it in the time of Covid, letting go is about cutting the cords with the saviour inside you, and realising the best you can do is help. Understanding something as simple as this instills resilience — an asset far too valuable than guilt or saviour complex. As Eckhart Tolle once said: Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.