Most of us are stuck at one place during the current nationwide lockdown. This is the new current reality and we are finding ways of keeping ourselves operational, alive and happy. Each day we win and lose this battle due to technological challenges, social challenges, business and environmental issues. The beauty of all this is that when it is over, we are going to fondly remember bits of this time in lockdown. I say fondly more so because I think there are some positive side effects of this lockdown for certain sections of the society which go beyond the evident environmental benefits of cleaner air.
There have been concerns of the lockdown causing great harm to the economy, people’s livelihood and mental health of almost everyone (who is not used to being at one place for too long). Some people also raise concerns that this could be the beginning of us losing our freedom to freely meet, greet and mingle with people. The human touch may become a fear. All the above are possibilities and the concerns are valid. But I also feel that this pause brought by the lockdown shall also yield some positives for certain section of the people (popularly also called the privileged lot because they don’t fight hunger on a daily basis).
There are a series of adjustments that people have made during this lockdown. They are eating home cooked food, possibly also cooking together, talking with each other and most likely also sharing screen time. But at a deeper level I think they are learning something which is new and also very old. That is the art of living in commons.
Household is a commons. Everyone uses it for living and shares a relationship with each other in a manner that aims to foster harmony. With social fragmentation many families have branched out into their own private properties. But there are some who still stay together in a classical joint family. Being in a lockdown is allowing us to share, maintain and feel this commons more closely than before. The food that is getting cooked is a commons, the cleanliness in the house is an experience felt by everyone, the sharing of workload and upkeep is a joint effort. Hence its not easy to single out one person to blame or give credit. It’s a collective effort. There is no easy way to order food if the food at home is not to our liking. There is no get away from home if you don’t like what the other has to say. So, we are learning to live in commons and making efforts to sustain it.
In commons governance plays a big role. Often conflicts are resolved through a dialogue and adjustments are made. This was a usual practice in earlier joint families. We are learning this again now. There is no office to run away or a mall to distract and kill time. We are experiencing home now. If we come out of this clean then we would have learnt something new. The distribution of labor, time, resources, management of quality, taste, sharing of feelings and the art of developing patience. All are critical elements while sharing a common resource to make a living. Including the internet bandwidth.
Mental health is an issue coming up more often during time of lockdown. The common question is how does lockdown impact one’s mental health. I think this is a challenge. During this challenge we would also realize the importance of friends and colleagues with whom we talk and share things on a regular basis. That physical touch is temporarily lost now and being replaced with digital means. But if we can cope with it, find ways of adapting and come out clean then we would remember these days as a learning journey. Potentially new habits could get formed, realizations could take place and we then know that this was a much needed pause for us to reflect and potentially reinvent our lives and the way we live. The days where time taught us the essence of life. We shall remember them fondly.