For the past year, the country has been embroiled in not one, but three crisis: a pandemic, an economic meltdown and a political saga. Since the lockdown announcement made by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin March last year, Malaysia has undergone multiple phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in efforts to combat the deadly virus that I like to describe as what centipedes would look like if they were round. Yes, the coronavirus disease, better known as Covid-19. As we speak (write), Malaysia has recorded a total of more than three hundred and seventy-five thousand Covid-19 infections, killing more than one thousand three hundred people.
Ever heard of the saying that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud? Well, it can be hard to look at the bright side when our minds are predominantly tuned to focus on the negative side of things. The real question is, is this virus that the naked (or aided) eye can’t see here to teach the world a lesson? Was it sent by the universe to warn its breathing walking beasts of something? The lessons that Covid-19 has taught us, here and now.
#1 Some Things Know No Race and Religion
If there has to be one thing that came out of this pandemic, it is the reminder it serves that we are all equal in the eyes of the universe. The little furballs with legs know no race, no religion, no culture, no social class and no societal level. It infects whoever it pleases, it infects the careless society. The virus simply does not choose.
In fact, it has connected the world in a way that was unknown to mankind. Countries are helping each other out, frontliners from first-world countries volunteered in places where medical aid is limited, masks were shipped from one country to another. The virus made us stronger – we are fragile by ourselves, but stronger together.
#2 We Befriended Technology, and There’s No Turning Back
Of course, the world has long been going digital. But before the pandemic, it wasn’t mandatory for us to have our phones with us 24/7. The standard operating procedure for our beloved boomer generation was to shop for groceries at the morning wet market, to walk into any store without having to fish out a rectangular light-emitting thingy majiggy that magically scans a maze looking thingy majiggy.
Arguably, the biggest long-term societal effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is that technology has now become the first thing humans turn to when looking for a solution to our problems. The technology boom didn’t just involve video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Food delivery and runner apps also doubled in their earnings thanks to the fact that the world was stuck at home for most of 2020.
#3 Life is More Flexible Than We Think
Life has always been about the hustle and bustle of meeting our tight schedules and deadlines on a day-to-day. But this pandemic has proven that it is completely fine for some nonessential tasks to be completed slowly. The time spent at home allowed us to rethink our priorities and what is really important to us because the reality is that some things really can’t wait while others can.
As annoying as it sounds, the unprecedented arrival of the coronavirus disease shows the we do not have full control over our plans. However, we can choose to have control of the little aspects of life that are within our control. By renouncing the control we once thought we had over our plans, we end up enjoying our present moments for what they are.
#4 Busyness is Not an Excuse
Many of the opportunities we had (but took for granted) to meet up with the people we love and cherish, but just never had the chance to catch up with because we were simply ‘too busy’ pre-lockdown, are no longer possible post-lockdown. From the trips you and your friends were dying to go on to the cafes you wanted to take insta-worthy shots at, to simply being able to walk on an actual stage during graduation.
I cannot help but imagine how eventful and exciting life would have been like without the pandemic. But with that said, whatever that is meant to be is in the here and now or is on its way. Know that the things and the people that are meant to be in our lives are present right here and right now. So, cherish them. Prioritize them, before it is too late.
#5 Emotions are Meant to be Felt
Malaysia has seen a rise in suicide cases and near suicide cases during the pandemic as prolonged uncertainties have put many under immense distress. Hence, knowing why we feel what we feel and being able to acknowledge and cope with our emotions in a healthy manner is important.
Expecting a constant feeling of happiness in our lives is completely unrealistic. We are humans, we respond to situations. As much as I would never wish to see someone sad, angry or stressed, the truth is that without these emotions, we would never be able to understand happiness.
P.S. If you find yourself or others struggling with mental health, here are some resources for emotional support and help.
While we are all very aware of all the life changes that the deadly coronavirus has brought about to our lives, while we are busy adapting to the new normal and while we grief the opportunities that are no longer within our reach, take a moment to reflect on how this temporary stagnation in our lives has shaped the way we view our lives. Remind ourselves that this pandemic has made us stronger, more empathic and more aware of life’s fragility (or at least that’s the hope).
This shall pass, and we are all will be okay.