A few days after the spread of the Coronavirus, I saw a message on the Internet that said: I can’t express how much I was relieved, when the guy who had just entered the post office with his mask on shouted: “This is a robbery!”.
That joke then made me smile. It was still the days when diametrically opposed news regarding the danger of the virus alternated: according to some it was lethal, for others a simple flu; yes to masks, masks are useless and so on. And we still felt authorized to play down the situation by means of funny jokes.
After a few more days, news about hundreds if not thousands of people infected with the virus spread. Then came the moment of the death toll, which resembled war films.
After a few weeks of quarantine, despite my efforts to remain positive and not be contaminated, not only by the virus, but also by the anxiety and panic that I felt growing everywhere around me, I started hearing a little voice in my mind.
Knowing that the mind is often our first enemy, which tries to boycott us through thoughts and emotions, I tried not to listen to it, I ignored it and I thought I had unconsciously made mine the emotional content of some messages that I kept receiving in my phone chats and that shared alarming news and conspiracy.
“I want to keep positive” I repeated to myself like a mantra. As if it were needed, given that positivity is a feature that I have developed over the years and is now inherent in my character.
Yet I did not stop hearing that little voice … it was really stubborn and as time passed it no longer whispered, it was now shouting: “THIS IS A ROBBERY!”.
In fact, thinking about it, that little voice was not entirely wrong: it’s true, that’s right, they stole my time! Just when I had taken over my life and finally understood what I wanted to do “when I grew up”, just when I was about to make a profession of my passions and values that are essential for me, a STOP order arrived! My region was closed, my city reported as among the most heavily burdened, everything was prohibited: stop to events, stop to going out, stop to commercial activities … aw no, sorry: stop to commercial activities except tobacco sale and betting! Yes, I’m definitely the victim of a robbery! They took my time, yours, ours! Two months of our lives canceled from the calendar, lost, stolen.
This is what that little voice whispered to me.
Luckily, for some time I have learned to know my enemy. If I had succumbed to the temptation to believe that little voice in my mind, I would have spent the following weeks crying over myself, despairing, worrying. With the only result of finding myself a larva. Because such dramatizations tire a lot.
Have you ever noticed how we feel after we get caught up in emotions, especially negative ones like fear, stress, anxiety? We generally feel tired, emptied.
This happens because when we are in the throes of strong emotions, especially if negative, we are wasting our energy behind mental processes that are mostly useless, because even if we cry on ourselves, the situation does not improve nor does it have any chance of changing. It is only with the action that things can take a new verse.
Going back to my inner voice that whispered thoughts, doubts, dismay and uncertainties for my future, I knew that if I had given up, it would not have led me anywhere, in fact I would have really played the game of my “robbers”, and in the end I would have wasted time!
Instead, I preferred to put the quarantine weeks to good use and I closed myself in a cognitive silence. It is curious that in Italian we use the expression “observe silence” when in fact it is silence that allows us to observe.
This is what I did: at a certain point I decided to take a step back, to move away from the noise of chats, from the whirlwind of news, from death tolls, I silenced my mind and started observing myself.
To quote another nice image that I saw on the net, “if you can’t go outside, go inside”. Beautiful indeed!
This is what we should always do, everyone. In fact, we are used to looking always and only outside ourselves, in every moment and situation of life. This has been happening since we were little. Have you ever seen two young children arguing? There is always one who, crying, points one finger at the other, blaming the other for her or his mood. At work we get angry with our colleagues because they have certain attitudes that annoy us … but we rarely stop and ask ourselves why we feel that annoyance. Even the game many politicians play when they first make statements and then deny them: this is a way of blaming others for not understanding their message.
There is nothing to do, we are not used to looking inside! Entering, looking at oneself from within, doing an examination of conscience, becoming aware of how we are made is certainly a difficult and painful process. It is so complicated to look inside that it almost seems an act against nature.
Yet there is nothing more invigorating for the body and spirit. When we become aware of how we are made, what mistakes we made in the past, how we can remedy them, why we behave in a certain way in certain situations, we are taking our lives into our hands. It is only when we manage to dig into it to remove all those layers of superstructures that genetics, society, the historical and cultural moment in which we are living pug on us that we manage to get to our true Essence.
And when we finally manage to look our Essence in the face, when in disbelief we begin to understand who we are, what we are made of, what potential we have, we feel very good, we feel alive, we become stronger and we are frightening! No longer to ourselves, but to others. That is, to those who have so far considered us as sleeping sheeps and have taken advantage of it!
I know very well that my words will seem strange or pure rhetoric to many of you. I am well aware that the process is long and complicated. But it is also complicated because from time immemorial we have been led to think that it is normal to always live on alert, constantly wary for fear of the enemy: our playmate, schoolmate, colleague in the office, mother-in-law, neighbour, the driver of the car nearby, and so on.
Have you ever noticed that history, as we have been taught in school since we were kids, is nothing more than a list of abuses, insurrections, wars, betrayals? They do not tell us about the beautiful things that people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela did, just to mention some of the Great Characters of the last century. They don’t teach us the knowledge that Indian medicine men and women had, they don’t teach us the true teachings of the world’s major religions. Always and only negative facts. The story we are told is the victory of the bad guys over the good ones, it is war prevailing over peace.
They always tell us only the negative side of the coin. So it is natural that the negative part and the belief that we must continually watch our backs from the enemy develops within us. So we spend all the time talking badly about someone, plotting, criticizing, belittling, mistreating. Or defending ourselves, justifying us, demonstrating something to others. All such activities distract us from looking inside.
But like all medals, history has another side, that teaches us what those great characters I mentioned above did and, like them, many others, ordinary men and women, who at some point in their existence felt the need to fight to assert their rights and maintain their freedom. If they taught us this, something would resonate within each one of us and more people would wake up, remembering their true essence.
In these two months of quarantine, all of us, some more or less, have looked the dark side of life in the face: the fear of contagion, the concern for loved ones, the uncertainty for our professional future. The memories of war have awakened in us, the fear of poverty, the pain of loneliness. In short, we looked our demons in the face. Little by little, however, we also learned to recognize them in others.
We have been prevented from meeting, from reuniting. So we developed different ways to stay in touch. With difficulty at the beginning, but now we juggle video conferences and video calls as if we had always done so. Thus, even distancing has failed. Because we don’t necessarily need physical contact, we communicate through the heart.
Faced with the prospect of a compulsory vaccine for the entire world population, instead of panicking we started to question ourselves, to inform us, to understand that, whether the vaccine is right or wrong, nobody has the right to decide for ourselves, for better or for worse!
Following the closure of most economic activities, chains of solidarity and aids for those in difficulty are proliferating from below, from the people, from citizens and associations in every corner of Italy (and, I believe, of the world).
In short, this is in effect a robbery and also a very well planned one… but I am positive and I know that, united in awareness and love, we can foil it!
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