-Shashikant Dudhgaonkar

Reflections of an idle mind. Courtesy the COVID lockdown. Around 700plus words

There is a lot of chatter going on about COVID in every sphere and sector of society. And after the discussions about the number of people affected , mortality, lockdown and vaccines the discussion invariably veers towards economy. Of course there are a few who discuss the humanitarian crisis due to the control measures undertaken by the government. But the main thrust is always the economy. And the doom and gloom around it. Already a lot of industrialists and economists have started sounding their irritation about the oppressive control measures which are suffocating the economy. Which brings us around to a number of questions. With a lot of time on hand and ample time to think about our assumptions. Assumptions about our lives and how we live it. And their relevance to our lives. 

For long, almost from the start of this 21st century the key words or the hyper glorified  glorified words that we keep on hearing are productivity, innovation, processes, margins, balance sheets, profits, etc., Now since a last few years a new word has been added to it Startups. 

On their own there are no problems with it. But they are spoken as if these things  like productivity, innovation, processes, margins, balance sheets, profits, startups etc., never existed before. 

We humans since our evolution from apes have been using this tools and terms. Because without them we wouldn’t have been where we are now. Yes , they are extremely important along with science, technology, education, democracy, cooperation, Health care and many others. But nowadays in our unrelenting pursuit of a possessions and pleasures we have defined them, marketed them and glorified them to an astronomical levels. 

But they are not the only important things. Just look back for a few years and with the benefit of hindsight and the relaxed mind (in the lockdown circumstances) one can realise we are only running and running. From Monday to Saturday and morning to night we are running. Without any break. As if if we stop the sky is going to fall down. And in the process we are damaging our minds and bodies. Not only self, but we are damaging our family structures, societal structures, and irreversibly changing the environment. 

To get away from the monotony and hard work, we take breaks, we go for vacations. But even if we go on a vacation we are on a tight schedule. We are in a tearing hurry on our holidays to tick off all the touristy things that need to be seen from our to do list. And clicking photos to be posted on social media rather than enjoying the serene vista around us. We never bother to get aquatinted with the local people and the local culture. Establish absolutely no connections with that small microcosm of a society during our stay there. And after that hyper-vacation we return home hyper-tired. The intent of rest and refreshing is all lost. 

Coming back to the running we will not and can never stop. Because the moment we stop we will fall. Because we are living a borrowed life. A life sustained by borrowing from our future to make our present look good. Rest assured that we are going to have to payback in the future for our present borrowings in the way of EMI’s, bad physical and mental health, broken families, no meaningful social connections , pollution, environmental degradation and exhaustion of the resources like water, minerals and fuel. And for what? Just to make our present life look good. We are just doing a window dressing of our lives. Without adding any value. 

This aspect takes on even graver tones for the lower middle class or the labour class. In their day to day running to just sustain themselves and their basic needs they have become like say a herd of cattle to the society. To be used and disposed off when they become useless. With their daily focus on travelling to and fro towards their offices, hard and long work hours and minimal vacations they are living the life of robots. With no time for rest and no time for leisure. That leads to no time for pursuit of higher goals like art, culture and leisure. So they seek pleasure and relaxations in addictions. 

All this gives rise to a lot of questions. And many of us do have these questions. 

Do we think of human life as a whole ? Does a human being require only salary or income. Even at the expense of working 12-14 hours a day. At the expense of having absolutely no family time. At the expense of not seeing their babies growing up ? At the expense of neglecting their ageing parents who might leave this world any time ?

Where is the balance ?

Where is leisure ?

Where is altruism ?

Where is creativity?

Because these are lost under the heavy weight of productivity , targets, deadlines, processes, innovation, etc., 

We have stopped evolving as human beings ? 

We are growing and evolving into cyborgs. Outwardly human……. but cold and programmed machines from the inside.

Ending this with a poem by William H Davies


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait, till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies