My life has recently changed a lot. In many ways, for the better.
There is lots of anxiety and stress today. And there is a human tragedy. But there is a distinction between what we can individually influence and what we cant. We can self-isolate to help contain the spread of the virus. And we can help people around us who struggle. We can also make our time in lockdown meaningful. In any given situation, we can choose how we respond.
Two weeks ago, the plans of my family were abruptly changed. Due to the closure of borders and cancellation of flights we got stuck in a place where we didn’t plan to be. Away from where we live and work. Being locked down felt quite discouraging at first.
From today’s perspective, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to my family in those circumstances. Thanks to that time, I could slow down and reflect on a few important things.
I could redefine what the “home” is. It is not where we live. It is where we are together with our loved ones. We moved into my wife’s parents house and have been working remotely since then. I might miss sometimes our place in London. I find it difficult sometimes that I don’t have things I used every day. But I could quickly get used to it. Our children are looked after by the grandparents, and they could not be happier about it. But the most important thing is that we are together.
I also have the opportunity to reflect on how much stuff we need in life. We came here only for one week holiday. We took only one suitcase with clothes and other stuff (for four people). It turned out that we don’t need much more than that. Have I finally got the proof that minimalism can work in practise?
I spend more time with my family. In London, I only saw my children in the evenings in this short time between I picked them up from the nursery, and when I put them to bed. Now, I see them all day. Thankfully, we have grandparents to look after them while I work, but each morning I am there when they wake up. I see them each time I take a break from work. As soon as I finish, I am ready to play with them. And I have the energy to do so. Is there anything more important than quality time spent with our children?
I am closer to nature. Ok, we might not be living here in the middle of a forest. Yet, with only 5 minutes drive, we can get to the woods with no one around. And we do go there every day. Girls love it. Me too. It was always my dream to be living somewhere where we can escape the city quickly and spend more time in nature.
I could set up my (almost) ideal daily habits. Not only I could continue with my daily yoga practice, but now thanks to the time I save on commuting, I have more time for writing or meditating. Or for whatever else I feel like doing. I found my old road bike in the garage which I refreshed and started cycling again (as long as it’s still allowed).
As for work, I am still trying to spend my time more efficiently, but there are already a few benefits which I noticed. Because it’s more challenging to work on a laptop instead of a desktop with three monitors, I made some concessions. I cut down on consumption of emails and on staring at Bloomberg screens with live price changes. And it’s incredible how much better I feel during a day. Despite the craziness of markets, I feel calmer.
I am not distracted by phone calls, office chats, and too many meetings. Because I need to focus, I started making a list of what I wanted to get done any given day. I’m still not a master in that, but it’s getting better. At least, I have a feeling I am more in control of my time. I have time to think.
Communication works differently, but I am amazed by how well technology can link us all now. Maybe I will feel different about it in a few weeks or months, but I enjoy catching up with people online so far. The tools for teamwork are beneficial. I’m not saying whether its better or worse, but it works. And its fun to learn new ways of working.
Getting used to connecting with people online helped me also get in touch with lots of friends I haven’t talked to for a while. Suddenly, it is no longer awkward to have a video call.
My situation can easily change quickly if someone from my family gets sick. Or if the economic recession hits us in a more impactful way. But so far, we have been fortunate, and I am grateful for that. I am also in admiration to all people who are at the frontline of the fight with the epidemic. They are true heroes, and my problems seem so small when compared to some of the stories I read. Yet, wherever you are these days, we all can choose how we respond. Let’s use this opportunity to slow down and refocus on what’s important.