2020: Stay Alive

“Kalender 2020: Januari, Februari, Pandemi, Desember.” @Fahrrur_ on Twitter

That tweet is funny yet quite precise to describe how time flies so fast in 2020, a year when the COVID-19 pandemic began. And I could say it’s probably true. It’s the new year already. Thus, I want to leave notes on how I went through 2020.


1.      Stay alive

I used to think that we, as human beings, must do better than the previous year, and must achieve more and more in life. The pandemic struck and changed the way I perceive life. It’s a bit hard to sum up this year into one conclusion; Are we doing better? Doing worse? Or going nowhere? Well, 2020 had its ups and downs, a year of uncertainty and absurdity. All we got to do was save ourselves first. Thus, I decided to direct myself to do only one thing in this crazy year: Survive. I put aside the definitions of so-called “improvement”, “achievement”, "resolution", you name it, and just keep in mind to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, from day to day. This is the most basic need yet very challenging to achieve in 2020.


One thing I learned is that people have their own mechanisms to cope with this hard situation. Some people might enjoy attending free webinars, while some might feel drained. For me, besides enhancing my knowledge, attending webinars (for topics I’m interested in) allowed me to fulfill the need for social interaction during the lockdown. Let’s continue our own way and respect each other without discrediting any particular activity.


2.      Work from home (WFH)

For almost one year, I have been working from home (and still continue). Thankfully, my organization was concerned about the staff’s well-being and wouldn't let us work in the office until everything was safe. In the beginning, I struggled to find a perfect spot to work at home. First, I worked near the kitchen where the computer desk was placed. The advantage was it was a one-snack-away. But the sound from the cooking activity was a bit disturbing. I then moved to my bedroom and it was a BIG NO since the bed was a total threat. Now, I nest in a small corner between the bathroom and closet. Not perfect yet, but good enough for me to stay focused during work hours.


Of course, there are pluses and minuses about WFH. The thing I’m most grateful for is having more time to do other things. I think that spending 3 to 4 hours round-trip commuting is ridiculous. Meanwhile, when in a remote area, it only took me less than 5 minutes to get to the office (yeah, no traffic). These two different ways of life made me reflect that people should have spent a shorter or more reasonable commuting time, so they can allocate it to do other things that truly matter to them, and that give them happiness.


3.      Explore new activities

Regarding point 1, plus to get rid of boredom during quarantine, I have been doing some activities I never tried before: Yoga and gardening (some people called it urban farming). This was my first time trying yoga and unexpectedly loved it. With the help of our senior who was a yoga teacher (thank you, Winda), I and some friends in Mapala had a yoga virtually once a week. Although we didn’t have it in person, I was still grateful, especially for the opportunity to interact socially with friends. And I could say it’s totally fun!


Gardening took on another level of dimension. This required physical work, lots of patience, and high commitment. You couldn't just spread the seeds on the ground and then left them. It was like you became a parent of the green babies who needed sufficient attention for monitoring their growth. I started gardening in June, planting several productive plants such as tomatoes, chilies, bell peppers, spinach, lettuce family, sunflowers, and many more. While keeping me physically active, this activity could reduce anxiety and bring me joy. It was a good feeling to have something to nurture as well as nourish the soul. As Aladdin said, “A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view”, I gained many lessons while growing plants and shared in this post: Belajar dari Alam. Feel free to check it out. Thanks.


4.      Declutter home, declutter mind

It’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to tidying things up at home. Whose things? My mom’s. I used to argue with her a lot because she tends to keep old stuff even though she won’t use them anymore (while our house is not that big). Mom felt so attached to the memory of an item, “Jangan dibuang, ini dulu beli pas…”, or the idea of someday, “Jangan dibuang, nanti bisa dipakai…” which resulted in zero items sorted into the disposal at the end of the day. This got me so frustrated that one day I prayed, “God, if this is what I was created for in this world (to clean up the house), please give me strength”.


I realize that a home is more than just a building after I practice everything from home. Fumio Sasaki wrote in his book that the more items we have, the more stressed we potentially are because our minds have to provide space for thinking about them. I strongly agree. No wonder I got a little sensitive during quarantine (before cleaning the house). It has been a long and tiring journey, both physically (sorting stuff) and mentally (dealing with parents). Yet I was so grateful that my dad was on the same frequency as me on perceiving stuff. He helped me a lot while decluttering. Now the house is much better than before. Yes, a home is not just a home. It’s a place where you live 24/7 right now, so it’s important (at least, for me) to make it comfortable and livable. This pandemic gives me time to slow everything down and take a closer look at the place I live in.


I wish you nothing but safe and sound, wherever you are. We can do this.

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