Sunday 28 February 2021

The Covid Perspective

When covid whacked the world last year, everyone was affected and everyone saw things curiously different. It is difficult to judge those who locked themselves in a bunker or criticize those wandering around mask-free desperately clinging to life as normal. Everybody had a perspective, and it is only when you understand someone’s beliefs, lifestyle and culture that you begin to see a new point of view. While hysteria and misery ooze from TV and social media, the world’s cities have lost their buzz and those picture-perfect holiday towns are left deserted and no longer scooping ice creams on cones. As far as how to react in this new fanatical, germ-free, hand washing obsessed ultra-sanitized world, well…perspective is everything.

Covid hits everyone dramatically and very differently. With lockdowns, school closures and physical distancing, kids are growing up missing the opportunity to develop social skills. Students in their final years lose the gatherings and celebrations that cement the year’s academic successes. Athletes no longer have competition and must train from home with no medals to be gained. Those in hospitality like us are simply left scratching their heads waiting for guests to return and meanwhile pivot to home delivery, which barely covers costs but somehow gives comfort within its mindless repetition. Those in the later years of life are retired and avoid the drama of frozen income with pensions flush, but sit dishearteningly within the category of high risk as their homes become confinement. Everyone has their story to tell and everyone is affected, although it is when we noticed the unusual way the Balinese dealt with Covid that we understood exactly what makes them so remarkably special.

As the material world shows its cracks and people everywhere look to find strength in timeless core values like family, friendship and compassion, we all see now how we have prioritized financial gain over happiness, success over health and career over family, but not the Balinese. This pandemic has taken away, as it has for many, their income, their jobs, their careers and their fancy mobile phone plans, and left them with nothing but themselves. Now…there lies the big difference: the Balinese are intrinsically joyful people, they only need themselves, their family and friends for happiness and it has always been like this. Covid has only had a material impact in their lives, but their core values and support system have not been affected. They look at us with pity and a sympathetic smile as we stress out trying to find meaning in our now empty days. The basic pleasures of life are easily found and somehow globally so easily misplaced for the rest of us mere mortals...

So as the world is still figuring out what to do, the Balinese have long ago started to heal! Hopefully the rest of us will eventually also learn to appreciate those special little magical moments every single day has to offer but we miss while being too busy looking the other way.