• Casper Yeow

The biggest hidden blessing of COVID-19: So, this is what simple feels like!

For months, perhaps even years, I've been trying to simplify life, with very limited success. Society, work, and even things I really love and enjoy like church compel me to do more with my time. "Fit as much as I can into each day!" I hear one part of my inner voice telling me, while there's another that screams "SLOW DOWN!" More often than not, the last is overridden by the first - shouted down. So, what typically follows is a flurry of activities that fight for my attention, leaving me at the end of the day feeling like I've not achieved anything significant and wishing that I'd just focussed on one thing until it was done. COVID-19 has changed all that. With the government's progressive implementation of staged lockdown, we've all be forced to boil life down into a much simpler form. Without underplaying the unprecedented world-trauma and havoc caused by the pandemic, at a personal level, I'm grateful.

My day, apart from the 'hygiene factor' activities like east, sleep and shower, now consists of my early morning routine (exercise and meditation), work (from home) and family duties. My family duties include also my church responsibilities, as I consider members of my congregation family. To that end, I touch base with those whom I truly care about once a week to make sure that they have what they need and to let them know if they need anything I'm there. Gone is the constant feeling of being rushed by the constant stream of swimming lessons, music lessons, school drop-offs, crowded work commutes, birthday parties and church meetings. While cleaning up after dinner the other night, with a slight sense of guilt, I asked Teena (my wife), "Is it wrong that I don't miss any of those things?" While there's a slight discomfort in living this altered lifestyle, it feels right to me, and I'm quietly dreading returning to 'normal.'

On what we considered 'normal,' I highly doubt that it will return again as the one we've come to know pre-Corona virus. Just like the events of 9-11, this event will force us into a new 'normal'. While I hope that it'll be one that is more sustainable, given the state of world leadership, I have doubts. However, as individuals and families, we can still make decisions now, for when all the panic and doom is over, to simplify.

For those of you who are familiar with world-renown Japanese minimalist and decluttering expert Marie Kondo, I think it'd be a good investment of time to go through our life activity 'wardrobe' and divide them into what 'sparks joy' (i.e. the fundamentally important things in our lives) and what doesn't, with the view of discarding those that fall into the latter category to simplify and reclaim our time, the most important commodity of our lives. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Until next time, wishing you and your loved ones safety and good health.

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