I’ve been staring at the blank screen for at least 10 minutes. Let me just come right out and say it: I don’t know what to write about. There, I said it.
Forgive me, today, my thoughts are all over the place but I’ll try not to lose you in them. So stick with me. Writing is like most creative passions – the work is done in silence, behind the scenes before sharing with an audience. For me, they are often fragmented phrases tucked in journal pages, words scribbled on notepads and typed on email draft folders. But today is different; I’ll just write straight from the heart because my tangled feelings refuse to come un-knot in crisp words. Worse still, I can hear my thoughts so loudly.
I’ve been unable to write lately but it’s not because there’s nothing to write about. On the contrary, with the news of the Coronavirus dominating headlines around the world, there’s a whole lot to write about. The global COVID-19 pandemic is an entire story we are all watching unfold while hoping for a happy ending. The lockdown has caused a pause to the hustle and bustle of life, not a gentle halt but a loud, screeching stop. It has bridged the self-imposed distance between us and our thoughts. The sweet escape from our doubts, fears and excuses now eludes us.
In the past, we could lose ourselves in our jobs, communities and even relationships but not anymore. It has forced us to confront our feelings in the last couple of weeks. With social distancing being the most effective way of curbing the spread of the virus, it’s robbed us of our crutch. There’s no excuse for not starting that project you keep telling everyone you’ll work on when you have more free time now. You’re realizing that it was not a question of spending a longer time on phone calls with your partner but that you’re in the wrong relationship; both of you have nothing to say to each other. If you’re like me, you’ve realized that what your sister has been saying is true: you have a problem with procrastination. There’s nothing to distract you from your life (well, there’s social media but even that is losing its appeal, at least for me). It’s reminded us that we do not have control over everything, just ourselves.
This pandemic has bullied us into recognising that life is fleeting. Some of us are asking what we can do with our life that’ll make a difference, because what we used to treasure is no longer accessible. You no longer have the luxury of sinking your feet in sand on a beach in Thailand as a getaway, all flights are grounded. Your wedding will happen with no invited guests; just you, your partner and your vows as a reminder to stick it out even when your partner leaves his towel on the bathroom floor. You can’t have a night out with the girls (some states are on a total lockdown) so you have to enjoy your own company. Since physical church services are on hold, there’s no audience to entertain with your religious gimmicks, you have to rediscover the lost art of worship on your own.
One of the things that has hit me in the last couple of weeks is the discovery that whatever you don’t start now, you’ll pay for later.
The damage caused by years of failed leadership has become more glaring. It’s the reason why we do not have the right medical facilities and equipment in Nigeria because someone decided that buying a house in Dubai was more important than providing adequate funding for the health sector. We are also guilty. Guilty of not voting, guilty of not holding our leaders accountable and guilty of not being the change we say we want.
That is why a state government thinks a pack of noodles given to the lucky few after a two week lockdown is their idea of a social welfare scheme. We failed to start a change. What have you failed to start in your life? Most of us now have the luxury of time, thanks to COVID-19, use it to start.
When I say start, I don’t automatically mean start working on your ambitions. I mean, start putting pieces of your dream in place, actively taking steps to be a better person and blessing the world with your gifts. Start affirming yourself positively; being kinder to your flaws, mistakes and heartbreaks. Start practising self care, whatever that is to you. Declutter; let go of that one dress you haven’t worn in years, don’t worry, you’ll always have new dresses. Start being a better friend. Pick up your phone and call your friends; ask them how they’re holding up. Start working on your creative ideas. A lot of people will depend on the solutions you provide, the jobs you create and your company’s corporate social responsibility program will help provide critical funding in case of a pandemic like the one we are currently facing.
You need to know that starting is hard! Take it from someone who’s quit a thousand times since she started. Starting anything is hard and frustrating. Starting means you need to end some things and bury a part of you; it’s a sacrifice of the old. You’ll want to revert to being a lazy and procrastinating person. You will have opportunities to be rude, selfish and unkind. But most importantly, you need to start. Start so that you’ll meet the best version of you, we want to meet you too.
What are some of the random thoughts in your head since COVID-19 made headline news? Please share.