Choices we make

Today we’ve reached 100,000 covid deaths in Brazil. It has quite a saddening, depressing and confusing effect upon the mind. It’s hard to understand why people choose to live like this, as if they didn’t mind so many deaths and tragedy around them. Knowing someone who has got covid or who has died from it has become a staple conversation. I now have two friends who have got it, and a friend’s uncle who has died from the disease. My sister has lost two friends.

I think this was the thing I was most worried about when it came to coming back to Brazil – becoming again used to absurdities and stupidities. Everyday I fight the Brazilian mentality, praying it will not have a negative effect on me or change my mindset, and this is not a fun way to live life. I feel like I’m an outcast in my own country. I am one of the few who refuses to go to social gatherings (yes, people are getting together, and I’ve lost track of what the restrictions are, because most people don’t respect them anyway – my neighbour is right now down on the coast at a beach house with some friends spending the weekend). I am one of the few who when grocery shopping or ordering food online, refuses to let the cashier or the delivery guy hold my debit card (some get cross with me!), and ask them if I can insert the card on the machine myself. I am one of the few who is disgusted and outraged that the protocol at some hospitals is to administer dengue test to patients going in with covid symptoms – and please don’t bother fighting or asking why, it’s the protocol, your test result will be negative for dengue, of course, and you’ll be back home and into society possibly infecting other people in case it really is covid (I’m not kidding, this happened to a friend a couple of weeks ago).

I’ve been wondering what I can do to help others, and what I can do to feel less outraged, less lost and less alienated. So last Sunday I joined a campaign to take meals to the homeless. I thought it could be something good, to be part of something bigger. I would risk going out from my isolation to do good, to care for those in need. I went to a bakery with the people organising the campaign to prepare 100 kits (one loaf with butter, a doughnut, a bottle of water, a banana, and a pack of biscuits), then from there out in the streets to distribute them to the homeless. What shocked me the most weren’t the homeless people (in one of the streets they even formed a queue to receive the bags containing their meals!), but the organisers – how they’ve been careless in terms of isolating, washing hands and taking the necessary precautions. Back I am in isolation, and I’m considering not going back there again.

I know this isn’t the most pleasant blog post you’ve ever read, but I guess I needed to vent a bit, and ask for some love. At the end of this month it’ll be five months isolating for me. No hugs, no touching, and basically the minimum face-to-face human interaction. What’s keeping my head high is my belief that I’m acting dharmically, I’m doing what I think is right for me and for the community, and the fact that I can take this opportunity to slow down, really dive deep within and be on an inner transformative journey. But friends, I can tell you I miss a big heart-to-heart hug, sitting with friends for a chat over some coffee or tea, and the overall freedom to walk around not feeling frustrated or that I’ll be risking my health and that of others. Choosing the greater good is not always the easiest path. Big lesson.

Adapting to change is a process

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that I’m not being so emotionally affected by the coronavirus situation. Seeing so many of my friends struggling, I feel bad that I myself am not. When my friends come tell me how difficult life is for them right now, I refrain from saying how I’m feeling ok about everything (except about the Brazilian president) – I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing what they’re feeling, but at the same time I wanted to tell them that I completely understand what they are going through. I’ve been there. Not necessarily right now, but I’ve experienced huge unexpected changes that turned my life upside down, and all the uncertainties that came along with these changes.

I didn’t ask for any of these unexpected changes, yet I’ve had to find ways to cope with loneliness, emptiness, lack of money, lack of face-to-face interaction, to let go of so many different things, from objects to people, as well as my life and my lifestyle as I knew them.

Nevertheless, the same feeling of peace wasn’t there for me in Bali when all the coronavirus thing started. There, although I was still doing my sadhana, praying, seeing my psychologist, and talking to friends online, I wasn’t feeling grounded at all , some wounds were coming to surface, my emotions were everywhere, my digestive system (and so my brain) was suffering. So all of this shows that adapting to change and coping with difficulties is a process. It isn’t something we accomplish overnight, particularly if we are open to dive deeply into our heart and soul. So this coronavirus situation seems like a new stage of this long process, only now it got to a level where all feels familar – living with less, interacting with fewer people, being quieter and looking within. Perhaps all the hardship I’ve been through has somehow prepared me for this. And you know what? I didn’t get why all of these changes were happening to me if you asked me a few months ago. But now I can only think that it’s a f***ing privilege to be able to go so deep into my soul and understand myself, heal my wounds, and feel freer.

To all of my friends who are struggling – I see you, I feel you. As many of you helped me with supporting words, messages and calls in the recent past – I hope you can feel I’m there a little for you too. Going through uncertainty and change is hard, but let’s lean on each other. That’s what has got me going as you know, and I’m a strong believer that a support network and a tight nonjudgmental community are one of the most important things we can have in our lives. This situation might take a while to pass, it might be painful, but I’m certain that all of you are super resilient, and I’m really proud of you for enduring through these tough times. Big big hug.