Sometimes I learn more from my clients than they learn from me. This week a client was asking herself “What do we define as our greatest luxury?” Her answer to her own question was “freedom”. We spoke about the freedom of movement, to travel and visit the people we love. We also talked about the freedom to go inward. In the face of so many people having to do what it takes to simply stay alive, having the space and time to consider my own thoughts and feelings is surely an odd luxury?
South Africa has followed suit with the Oriental trend of a draconian approach to Covid19. As of tomorrow, we are essentially still in lockdown and our efforts to combat the effects of Covid19 are only just beginning. The virus is one thing, the consequences of the virus are a whole new struggle.
We were delivering food to the local community. I asked the man in the picture if he had been receiving food since lockdown:
He shook his head in resignation, nothing.
Not even hot meals?
But I have heard there are people giving out hot meals on some days.
I am too afraid to leave my room, he replied, his head still shaking with resign.
Mark Epstein wrote that “Awakening does not mean a change in difficulty, it means a change in how those difficulties are met.” The problem is that fear robs us of creative action. Fear hinders us from becoming the things we could become. Fear literally starves us of our freedoms.
This man’s resignation stuck with me. As we drove off I thought of Dostoevsky – “To live without hope is to cease to live.” We sometimes die before death arrives. I hoped that taking food back to his community might give him a sense that things are possible. We cannot live without hope and we cannot afford to become paralysed by fear. Freedom is not just about exercising between 6am-9am tomorrow. Freedom is a willingness to reinvent ourselves in the face of crisis, to continue to imagine possibilities for our lives, beyond the narrow confines of our collective fearfulness.