How true is this quote, for us, in 2020? I was introduced to Joseph Campbell a few years ago through his many quotes but it’s only in the last few days that I’ve been reading his book “The Power of Myth” and seeing his videos. It’s astonishing how his words are still relevant in these COVID times as I reflect on the first half of 2020.
This year (as usual) I had made resolutions on a lot of things in my secret diary. When I checked my diary I was embarrassed and anguished that I was not able to accomplish many of my goals. I reluctantly accepted that “everything happens for a reason”. As Karl Marx said,” Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form”. I decided to look at three things that have worked for me in 2020 so far:
Lockdown was a time to strengthen my relationships with family, friends, colleagues, business partners, and customers. The CONNECTION that I felt stood out. I haven’t watched so many films in my life so far. Most of the films on my bucket list got ticked off. Spending time with family has been surreal. This helped me to unwind and find childlike joy when I saw Lion King and Moana along with my family. Outreach to friends was another factor and that definitely gave me lots of pleasure. This was also the time to strike a very different kind of conversation with my business partners and clients. Instead of stepping right into business, I learned to understand how they were health-wise, family-wise, and then used to have conversations around the business. In the process, I learned a lot about other people whom I used to think only from a business point of view. It opened my eyes to one fact that and I quote Hannah Baker, ” You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own“.
I called our cousin a few days back and we spoke for some time. It was a general catch up and check out. Before we ended the conversation he asked me, “When did we last meet?” and before I could guess he said, ” February”. It’s been 5 months. The best part is they live at a stone’s throw away distance under 1 km from our house. It made me check how 2020 is playing out so far and how we are embracing this shift.
Work from home is becoming the new norm and corporates are looking at making that as a new way of working. I used to travel 4 days a week during the last five years. This year my last travel before lockdown happened on the 12th of March. It has been a very different experience reimagining work from home and how to step in and step out of work and life.
The earlier cliched Work-Life balance for me has been about work-life harmony. The other day one of my friends was telling me how he is not able to make the difference between weekdays and weekends. The tech-tonic shift has been quite evident. The other day I had some challenges with my laptop for connecting on MS teams. I was always thinking of doing MS team calls on laptops. It took more than an anticipated time to fix the issue. I heard from someone that we can also install MS teams on the phone and we can do it. I installed it and never looked back. So these are times when you can try out new things and get a new way, new experience of doing the same. This rule was very much in line with my thinking of “how to routinely breaking routines”. So lockdown gave me opportunities to CREATE new ways of doing things.
This was a time to analyze, strategize, and understand more about risk appetite. In my routines, I included routines of serious reading of things which I have never been exposed to before and that gave me some good understanding. This was a time to break some myths which I was holding to myself. I was not all a morning person. In fact, I dreaded that experience of getting up in the morning. I had to bust that myth. Today I get up at 4.45 AM and do what I love the most, reading and writing. This was only made possible because of this period.
Another revelation was there were things I believed was always the preserve of others and I always neglected it. Every morning I make it a point to unload the dishwasher and keep all the utensils in those right paces. In the initial days, I did not know where to keep. Today I can blindly do it. This was made possible thanks to my understanding that every job is important by giving care and attention. As Harvekar says,” How you do anything is how you do everything.” Today I hold myself responsible and accountable for small things in life which I have ignored before. This is what I attribute as the CORRECTION factor I brought in professional and personal space.
We have reached the middle of the year (July 3rd to be precise is 183rd day, mid-point). A few years back, in one of my travels, I saw the above quote in an airport. It resonated with my soul. I wrote that quote down. I am humbled that I found that sacred space this year. With a new face, I have recognized the importance of Connection, Creation, and Correction.
One of Campbell’s most iconic concepts is the concept of the hero’s journey where the lead character of the story has to leave the ordinary world to find himself. We are all heroes and heroines of our own story and according to Joseph Campbell, we are all on that journey to explore that special world.
There was a path I charted out at the beginning of 2020 in an ordinary world and I let go of that path. In my quest, I understood the travails of pain and pleasure while I camped myself inside 4 walls while the bells of a special world were ringing for me. And how true is it for 2020 when I bring back another profound quote of Campbell to close, ‘ I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. “