Covid 19 and your stupid brain

It’s safe to say that these last few weeks (and months for some around the globe) have been just fucking bizarre. Going from a place of perfect normalcy and let’s face it, complacency to turning the whole situation into a real-life version of ‘contagion’.

And suddenly you dust off your primal instincts which have been gathering dust in the last few decades and you replenish your supplies of fear and your ‘survival instinct’ (which lead to the infamous TP disaster). 

Quarantine is not normal. Choosing to stay inside because you’re an introvert and simply preferring to watch anime all day is a TOTALLY LEGITIMATE LIFESTYLE THANK YOU VERY MUCH but it’s with the acute awareness that if you did decide to spend the day outside, you could. But when self-isolation suddenly becoming the mandate – time spent at home doesn’t quite feel like it used to. The four walls around you may just feel a little more claustrophobic than comforting. 

Do you know what the most annoying thing is? Unless you believe in the theory that Covid 19 is a man-made bioweapon, there’s nothing substantial you can point your finger at and hate. It’s impossible to personify and therefore villainize a fucking piece of code. A virus is a thing with no brain or intention, no evil cackle or plans of world dominion – even if that’s exactly what it’s ultimately doing. 

So if you’ve had some time alone with your thoughts, which seems more likely with the quarantine, you’re finding out that your brain is a pain in the ass and is taking you to some dark places. 

In this case, though, I don’t think it is necessarily paranoia alone, but it’s your brain instinctively trying to prepare you for the worst. So that if the worst does happen, that somehow, by having run through the situation in your mind (i.e. the prepping stage) you may be able to better cope with it if it does come to pass. And the truth is, mine delves into diluted forms of nihilism. I’d like to say it’s the kind of nihilism that eases the weight as opposed to make you all cynical and dark and an absolute pain to be around (which doesn’t help if others are confined with your sorry ass).

Nihilism in itself is the assumption that life is meaningless which has never been quite my philosophy, but if you follow it down to some of its logical conclusions and mix it with a sprinkle of Buddhist acceptance, it’ll lead you to ‘whatever happens, happens’. I feel confident in this when it comes to my own mortality, but I’ll jump ship and embrace becoming a fully-fledged hypocrite the second it comes to my loved ones and will disavow nihilism in a second. I’m trying to work on it, so I can find monk-like understanding in something as natural as the concept of mortality even when it comes to losing people I love. 

I feel this fusion of nihilism and Buddhism is a better way to go then Darwinism which at this point in time leads to some dumbass buying 18000 bottles of sanitizer and price gouging the hell out of it. Today, as dispersed and disconnected as we are because of technology, the virus forces us to work as a team. This means letting go of grudges and prejudices and the need to park your belief in individualism because your actions right now do affect others. This one time, you can’t be the only authority you listen to unless you live in the middle of nowhere with no one else around. Let’s all take some responsibility and see if we can’t minimize the harm we’re experiencing. 

In the meantime, if you’re scared beyond your wits because of your parents and grandparents, those with immune or lung complications – I hear you. I’m absolutely terrified myself, and that’s the only thing that gives me pause but while you may feel powerless – every single day you spend in self-isolation, see it as an active step of fighting the pandemic. It’s weird that sitting on your ass is the act defiance that we need – but it is. Because we’re all sacrificing something precious. In the meantime, and I know I don’t have to tell you this, don’t leave anything unsaid.

Time wasted

Our concept of time changes radically when we get older.

With age, I’m learning to value time as I’m becoming more conscious of its finite nature. It’s something I’ve always been aware of, of course, but never something I quite had to process in depth. Sure, I developed an intense hatred for the whole concept during the many occasions I found myself trying to cram in a ten-page essay the night before it was due, but time and I were friends again by the time my work was safely uploaded 2 minutes before the cut-off line.

The understanding of this has put me on guard and while I try to be mindful of it to avoid having it run away from me, it never seems to quite work that way. It’s the time consumption phenomenon; when you’re not paying it any attention, you suddenly find that you’ve used up rather a lot of it.

This was true as a kid when I was having the time of my life playing football and having managed to overshoot my curfew by a good couple of hours, and this is true now, when I’ve had an eventful year undergoing many changes in career and relationships. But you’ll notice the difference. As a kid, it’s two hours that get away from you, but as you get older, a year can start to feel elusive.

So the lessons you naturally pick up as you get older lead to a couple of very common symptoms. The guilt you feel when you’ve spent the majority of your time watching ‘You’ on Netflix, knowing you have a list of errands to commit to run It’s a sign of growth, where your conscience, whether you like it or not, is shitting on the decisions you’re making.

As a kid it was non-existent. You didn’t play with your toys for three hours only to come home and think you really should’ve spent it doing something more useful. I mean if you did, you must’ve been a fucking terrifying kid. Back then authority and discipline came from your parents. Now it has to come from you, and self-discipline is a bitch to pin down but if you manage to contextualize time properly, it can act as the best kind of motivator to ensure you’re spending this limited resource in a befitting manner and seek out more authentic ways to feel happiness than through a screen.

Thought leader

What makes a thought leader? On the surface it has a lot in common with what you’d look for in a cult leader – charming, charismatic and strong. But you want something more when it comes to a legitimate movement; the courage to leave room for debates and arguments. Being perfectly comfortable being confronted by those who critique whatever he/she’s put forward.

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How do you feel about change?

Change is daunting. Humans by nature tend to be somewhat averse to the concept. Heck, even when it’s for the better such as moving to a bigger and better home – it’ll cause you some anxiety. Be it the new job which comes with a better pay and sure – more responsibilities. You will feel yourself pulling back and hesitating just a little bit. You may shiver from the unexpected drop in temperature as you step out of your comfort zone.

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“If you could see anything, what would you do?”

What would you do indeed? Sometimes it comes in the form of a painful realisation that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s about knowing yourself well enough that if someone offers you gold on a platter that it might not be the right thing for you, even if objectively it is. Maybe it’s not wrong now, maybe it always will be. It’s holding yourself back from short-term pleasure by understanding the weaknesses you have. That something may change you for the worse or result in more pain means turning your back on something that no one else would. You are the only one who understands your flaws and what will exacerbate those flaws. Act on what you know about yourself.

How many times have you yourself thought about how amazing it’d be to be able to read minds? But once you dug into it more, you understood rather reluctantly that this blessing was a curse in disguise.

Ignorance is bliss‘ may not be the perfect over-arching motto of life but it counts as a significant footnote.

“Learn to close my eyes.”

Applying a structure into your life

We do well when applying a structure – those imposed by you and those imposed by others. Right now the libertarian in you will be shouting me down. I am all for live and let live but if you are in pursuit of a career, there’s no way around it. Applying a Structure tames your wild side. It tames it so that you can be productive when you need to be and let loose when it’s time to do so.

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Understanding the value of £ – it’s just money

I’ve always found this sort of attitude incredibly calming – it’s just paper, it is just money. It forces perspective with three words, automatically sorting out your value system. It’s a reminder, one that we no doubt need.

It’s just money – it’s not happiness

Many of us tend to be a bit of a career-holic. Obsessively trying to climb that ladder, wanting bigger and better, a better title, better money, bigger desk and a shiny car with a personalised number plate. And then when we hit a bit of a speed bump and obsess when we find life is more difficult than expected. Take a moment and prioritise what is material and what is real.

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