The past 60+ days have given us time and distance to contemplate. About key questions that we often forget to ask. About our life, society and our inner workings. A fast paced, ambition filled, and ‘always hustling’ culture takes up considerable mind space for deep existential questions. Leave alone deep contemplation, you are lucky to have a moment to take a proper breath, if at all.
And so, when you get a month or two to ask fundamental questions about how we are living our lives, we grabbed it with both hands.
7 questions i find people asking around me across social media, news outlets and in conversations.
1. Are we physically safe and mentally healthy?
When we constantly operate in auto-pilot mode, we rarely pay attention to signs that speak of a body and mind in disarray. Coffee powered, stress laden, and fear driven, we run an unwilling race that we never knew we signed up for. For the first time, we pay attention to our immune systems, health charts, and food choices. And more importantly, we ask our selves if we are mentally healthy. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it is that we are more attuned to our own bodies, inner self and are more open to admitting to ourselves (and others) what we really feel like. We have learnt to take a daily pulse check on both our physical and mental wellbeing.
2. Are we working on things that truly matter?
As corporations rescind job offers, lay off people, implement pay-cuts, many of us are taking the time to question the numerous hours we spend ‘at work’. In a volatile job market, loyalty, motivation, values often come in to question. On both the corporation and individual’s behalf. It becomes pertinent to ask some key questions about the 60 hours we spend each week. What industries truly create value in society? What job functions simply propagate mindless consumption for billions? Which companies create perceived vs. tangible value? Despite lingering in blissful ignorance we silently ask the question.
3. Are we nurturing our relationships with family & friends?
We take our family and friends for granted. Period. Day in and day out, they become our punching bags as we go forth and do great things in the world according to us. Little do we realize the toll every accumulating ‘unreturned phone call’, ‘missed meals together’, ‘under-spent quality time’ takes on a meaningful relationship with the people who really matter in life. As we are forced to spend more time at work, or can’t see them given we are on a different continent, or realize that we actually don’t have much more time left with them, the need to nurture worthwhile connections becomes crucial.
4. Are we building a society we truly want to live in?
Money. Power. Celebrity. All were proven grossly inadequate when it came to solving a pandemic. What and who stepped up was the government, essential workers (who we as a society treat poorly to say the least), values like human kindness, and unconditional generosity. As we continue to laud multi-billion dollar unicorn valuations, idolize eccentric founders, and eulogize ephemeral celebrity, we discount the tangible utility provided by boring and unsexy government servants, essential workers and everyday heroes among common people. What kind of a society do we want to build going forward is a question we all ask ourselves more often today?
5. Are we supporting communities and individuals around us?
Never before has the grave inequality in society been more evident. The gorge between the haves and the have nots is appalling. While for some the lockdown is a luxury, so for others it means being evicted and no food on the table. We are living two different pandemics. What are we doing to extend generosity, privilege and support to those less fortunate? Let’s never again be as arrogant as to discount the role of luck and fortune in our lives ever again. Hard luck sure has the power to trump hard work.
6. Are we being conscious environmental and economic consumers?
We consume. Endlessly. The latest fast fashion lines, the hippest food fad, and the unbelievably must see vacation spot. With little to no concern for the toll that it takes on the environment around us. Let’s admit it, we choose convenience over consciousness. Instant gratification over sustainable balance. And ego powered greed over mindful consumption. We are all paying a price for progress. The difference is there is a sale on right now, while future generations will be paying a premium. If there is anything of the earth left to sell.
7. Are we indulging in creative activities that nourish our soul?
Again, we consume. All. Day. Long. We consume ideas, stories, narratives, agenda, lifestyles, dreams and all that is served up to us on our device screens. But right now, more than ever before, we are not only consuming but also creating. Some of us have a longing to share a story that is hidden deep inside of us. And so we are creating like never before. Drawing, cooking, painting, exercising, writing, dancing, learning, any verb that lets you share your story. And set your soul free.
What other questions are you asking yourself? Share them in the comments. Stay home. Stay safe. Stay curious my friends.