The hamster stuck in the wheel

  • Published on May 7, 2020

When the new Coronavirus apocalypse began, multiple and fast-changing emotions stormed through me. Gosh, I was shaken to my very core! Watching the news, I feared for the life of my loved ones at home in Italy, which had suddenly become the epicentre of the virus in Europe. Surreal and tragic images of Italian soldiers escorting a cavalcade of coffins as they left the hospitals remain imprinted on me. At work, I feared for our jobs, and all jobs in the travel trade for that matter, as we witnessed the shut down of one country after another with exceptional no-entry regulations and countless flight cancellations from all airlines, one after another like dominos. Many of my friends were scared and panicked – even the ones whom I had always considered cool-headed. Now, their true feelings had simply laid them bare.

What is going on? If someone would have told me that, in a matter of weeks, the entire world would have come to a complete stop, I would have never believed it. Impossible! Nobody and nothing could possibly force people to be locked in their houses, deprived of all physical contact. Nothing could cause the elderly to be isolated from the love and care of their relatives, or force daycare, schools and universities to shut their doors. How could one single thing possibly close airports, restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, museums, libraries and businesses?  Or cancel surgeries, cancer treatments, close, sports activities, concerts, seminars, conferences and events? Even the Champions League was scrapped for heaven´s sake!! Unthinkable. 

We are all required to be on “house arrest” confused by our unfamiliar reflection in the mirror with messy hair, untrimmed beards and slouchy clothes used like uniforms. Some are surrounded by tons of toilet paper and junk food in the pantry. Go figure….. Whereas others are surrounded by bored and confused kids where once-worshipped devices are no longer entertaining. Halleluja!!

Some would say that we are all in the same boat….but not really. Rather, we are all in the same storm but in different boats.

Some are exempted from the lock-down because their job is vital and they work resiliently at a speed never experienced before to help keep society going. Bravo!

Some are now required to work from home, which is ironic when you consider the fact that many once dreamed of doing so, in order to help balance their lives but would be frowned upon by toxic colleagues or discouraged from doing so by archaic leaders.

Some are the first casualties of the new recession and have already been laid off and left feeling frustrated in their job search, knowing that one vacancy will have hundreds of applicants: it´s like winning the lottery ….and let’s be honest, luck is also in lock-down at the moment.

Others are standing by with too much time on their hand holding on to a false security that is ticking like a time bomb. What an odd time we are in, where workers are classified as indispensable or disposable.

I am in the ’stand by’ boat. I am the hamster in a stuck wheel. At first, the fear of the unknown future paralyzed me but I soon made the decision to detach from individuals with an alarmist and negative attitude and to listen only to the official news channels.

I practice meditation and it´s helping me to stay calm and focus because I am also a wife and a mother. I had to change my mantras to fit the new reality: “I need to be the rock. I need to be the harbour. I have more to give to and less to give up.” 

I am lucky. I am not sick and I am not mourning so I am using my time to fill my empty “life bucket” with pleasures I have longed for, for what feels like an eternity. Finally, I wake up in the morning when my body is ready to. I spoil my kids with long slow hugs, meaningful slow talks, yummy slow food and regenerative slow walks in the nature. And finally, I am reading tons of books, which is my true passion. What a blessing it is to make the best out of the worst. Stress is gradually ebbing away, and my physical pain is on the same exit path. I knew I was under phenomenal stress and that my only option was to keep running in 6th gear just to make it through the day.I knew I was stressed but I was trapped in a vortex. I have finally slowed down and I am discovering the natural human pace for which we were born to live. The magic of Spring is doing the rest. At the same time, I have also learned that I can´t just stay home and wait to be called to return to the ’new normal’. In the ’waiting room’ of the new normal, I would have just wasted precious time cleaning an already spotless house, baking another gourmet meal, browsing the Internet foruseless rubbish, shopping online for another not-needed dress, binging on brainless Netflix series and deceiving myself that I deserve another glass of wine. The human mind craves continuous stimulus for optimal performance and reading books or studying new subjects helps tremendously.

The apocalypse is not over yet with still too many people falling ill and others leaving this world unexpectedly. Contradictory news reports flutter like flags in the wind simultaneously reinforcing fears and raising hopes, but also inspiring personal growth. It all depends on what we decide to seek.

Mercifully, society is gradually reopening, and we all need to ready ourselves and contribute our best. I definitively want to be ready.

My take on this crazy time is to seize this chance for self-analysis with an introspective journey to take stock of our own true wishes and desires. A simple meeting with own-self . Let’s check where we are in the chart and if we are still in the fear zone – whatever our fear is – and then project ourselves through to the learning zone to ignite growth.

We don´t know what the future holds, but we can only hope to face it with less fear and more awareness in order to make a positive impact in this ’new world’.

I am no longer a hamster in a stuck wheel: I am a free hamster and will reinvent my own wheel.

Author: Elena – My Coching Lab

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