Humans have an innate desire for social interaction. Social or behavioral inabilities in early childhood can impact academic success and development of healthy relationships in adult life. In the light of the above statements, the COVID-19 confinement poses an introspective question, “is social isolation negative?”
Insights into the life of some inspiring personalities might change our view:
- Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak was imprisoned in Mandalay jail for six years for writing controversial articles. To forget his loneliness he immersed in reading and writing. He requested a list of books to the prison official. His request was immediately granted. It was here he wrote his mighty work, “Gita Rahasya” where he not only decoded Bhagwad Gita but also gave an exhaustive exposition of oriental and occidental philosophies.
- Ramdas Swami, the guru of Shivaji Maharaj wrote Dasbodh a comprehensive text advising a spiritual seeker on how to live a household life. He did this by isolating himself in a cave in the Sahyadri mountains.
- Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher locked himself up in a library for several years and produced timeless philosophical works “Essais” which had a considerable influence on French and English literature for centuries.
- Shakespeare was in isolation during the London plague when he wrote Macbeth
- Edward Munch, the artist painted his iconic The Scream during the years he spent in isolation which later allowed him to pursue a full-blown career.
- Sir Issac Newton was also in isolation in the countryside during the plague epidemic when the apple fell on his head and rest was history.
One might argue that all the above anecdotes belong to another era and to a certain extent these personalities were hermetic like many ancient seers and prophets who have sought solitude to reach the truth.
Unfortunately, the bitter truth of modern life is, in spite of having advanced electronic means of communication and more wealth at our disposal, people today are extremely lonely. The families have become scattered, there is an increase in the number of single families, an aging population, ill-health amongst the elderly. In present times, loneliness is a silent killer particularly in the senior population because their children are too far away. Depression and suicides death due to loneliness is claiming more lives than ever. Besides, a rise in social-media friendships is changing the ways people interact with each other. It is an irony that although in reality, we are living a reclusive life, lockdown is becoming hard to deal with. Each individual has a different reaction to it. The situation for the disadvantaged population is definitely unsupportable due to scarcity of resources and living space but the wealthy are agonized too.
One is unable to utilize this opportunity of the confinement time to bond with the family. This inability to live in the present moment could be due to fear of the unknown. The blasting TV screens continue to create an apocalyptic atmosphere on the pandemic situation and social media too with unreliable claims ensure minds are terrorized. Fear has gripped us all preventing a rational way of thinking.
In a crisis situation, it always better to accept what is happening around us and go with the flow of life doing the right thing. Perhaps, it is also an indication from the universe to slow down and relax instead of worry. Social isolation can become positive if one could try to venture inside. The road inwards is definitely not confronting like the outside world. In fact, it will allow deep reflection and inquiry about our existential situation. Moreover, it will also help to change the fear pattern of the conditioned mind.
Isn’t it always a wish of every individual in the workforce to have a long relaxing break or just have lazing time? Providence has fulfilled this wish so that we can rejuvenate, pray, meditate, and accept the crisis bravely.
French philosopher René Descartes who gave the famous maxim “I think therefore I am” would often spend hours on the bed after waking up, just “thinking” which he called the beauty of reflection in bed. Therefore indulging in simple pleasures of life like cooking, painting, writing, dancing, reading, spring cleaning the house would actually allow us to emerge as a stronger personality and face life in a different way.
Stay Safe, Stay positive but most importantly FIND YOURSELF!