I’m not too sure who coined the phrase, “The Great Pause”, but with a quarter of the world in lockdown, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Never has so much of the world come to such a dramatic halt so suddenly. For the first time in generations, people have no choice but to stop and take a pause. What this whole experience is really, is a gift. Not the deaths or the Coronavirus itself, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. What this crisis has given us, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see ourselves and our planet in its most simple form. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it. Malls are closed. Restaurants are empty. The world has stopped. If you want to jump off, now would be the time!
What this experience has given me is time to reflect. What was once common sense, obvious, certain, habit, routine, ‘just the way things are’ is now an overarching question mark. This capitalistic system I have agreed to partake in, one founded on lack, greed, the myth of separation between man and environment, no longer feels relevant. What I once believed to be important – “security” based on attempting to control, being validated by others, possessions, getting ahead, getting that rush of dopamine, money- all of that begins to dissolve in the stillness of this space. In this silence, I hear the voice of dissent I spent most of my life learning how to drown out with alcohol, drugs, distractions, laziness, avoidance or a mix of them all. It’s that same voice that guides you to live the only life worth living – a life in complete alignment with your highest expression. A life of Truth. This pause is an invitation to choose. When the very fabric of our identity is questioned and threatened, the mind’s reaction is to seek comfort in the known. To step back. To entrench its previous position. The same is reflected in the collective, in the group mind. But what has the known given us? Could we really return to that? Could we honestly be happy with that?
Pretty soon the lockdown here in South Africa and others around the world will come to an end. The powers that be will do their utmost to ensure things “go back to normal”. Billions will be spent by governments to ease us back into “normalcy” and businesses will be there with the super savings on products designed to make us feel better about things. In reality, we all just want that feeling of normalcy. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to the endless news of human tragedy in the media, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee in the morning and simply leave the house for work or go and visit friends. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be very strong.
And that’s when every brand will come to our rescue, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. But that’s just Capitalism. Harmless Capitalism. “Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product.” I hope that we’ll all be aware of it and notice it when it happens.
But really, the cat is out of the bag now. We, as a species, have deeply disturbing problems, although that’s not news. They’re problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The reality, is that no matter what our ethnicity is, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), as humans we share this: We are busy. We’re out and about, busily trying to make our lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to get to and bills to pay — all while the phone is ringing and emails are coming in and and and…
This is our chance to really look deeply at ourselves personally. It can be one of the most difficult things to do, to look at the parts of ourselves that we don’t like and see, in all it’s nakedness, the destruction we’ve caused to ourselves unknowingly. This is our chance to see past the propaganda of governments and media, to not be pulled into the fear and anxiety of the bewildered herd. This is our chance to make a choice, to change, to exit the hamster wheel. From one human to another, I ask of you: take a deep breath, ignore the noise and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life and ultimately the world. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes us happier and truly proud.