The greatest teacher, one month of shelter-in-place is…

[ First of all, my heart goes out to those families that are affected directly by Covid, either suffering loss of loved ones or have had go through monumental stress of recovering from the Covid. This article aims to resonate with the other majority of generic population that are only trying to deal with the new normal of WFH ... ]

April 6th (the day I am writing this)…. Exactly a month since the Official email from our own D J Paoni  (President , SAP North America) announcing the recommendation of Work from Home in Bay area offices was rolled out on March 6th…

Little did we knew then, that the temporary work from home arrangement will become the new normal for days and weeks (and may be months?)  to come…..

But little did we all knew then too, that the experiences , rollercoaster of emotions and unforeseen adaptations we were all doing to tide over this “new normal”  is going touch our lives in positive ways too.. teaching us some incredible lessons.

A greatest teacher, one month of work-from-home is….

(Rightly, Covid had served being our wise Yoda, in a sense !)

Taking things for granted:  Being in bay area, I realized I have taken many, many little things for granted (even without realizing). A whole month of shelter-in-place/work-from-home has bluntly exposed the indifference I had to those things, until a month ago.  Never have I stopped to think how many people’s services and sacrifices it involves to get things to my doorstep, the USPS mail, the newspaper I get at the door, even the amazon prime orders, the grocery store staff that stock the shelves every single day all through the year , the truck drivers that are on road away from their families so our families can find grocery at stores, the umpteen hours of service hours and meticulousness that the teachers that teach my kids school put in every day, the bus driver that got my kids safely home every single day , the thousands of invisible cleaning staff that made sure the doors we touch, the place we work are cared for every single day, not just during Covid, but throughout the year….. Thankfully, this month was huge eye opener, those little things will be looked up on with a renewed admiration and attention.

Taking family members for granted:  In the hustle of bay area’s fast paced life, little did each member of family has had time to listen to each other , especially when one is not being ‘requested’ by other to listen!  Shelter-in-place has taught me to listen, notice, appreciate the different personalities that my kids are growing with, the different perspective about things my spouse appreciates , the delicate sensitivities among some family members not obvious all along , all because I have been taught (by current situation) to listen to my own family members,  when they were not expecting me to (as in normal times) !  It’s a beautiful lesson, to me, one that’s missed in the hustle of bay area life. I plan to stick to this newly formed habit, long after the Covid is gone.

 Slow down to nurture self :  If you asked any adult (not just in Bay area), some joys/talents that they either enjoyed growing up, or knew they liked, but didn’t have opportunity to find out or nurture it as a kid, you will be likely to get at least one listed from everybody . Covid WFH, has done just that. I have been fortunate to be able to revive my interest in painting, and it has also given time to rekindle my passion for instrumental music. Let alone giving me courage to try a new instrument, learning from my high schooler. Natural bonding is added bonus, ask any teenager’s parent how disgusting that would sound to their kid otherwise ;). Zero commute has now  enabled me to do regular surya-namaskaras (a morning yoga routine in India that is very common).

Learn to connect :  Contrary to my original prediction about my iphone usage hours going up during shelter in place, my iphone now reports an average decrease of one hour from my daily usage a month ago. This is strange because I know that I am now connecting to extended family more, to my parents more, and to my friends more than I used to, before the shelter in place a month ago. So, I just learnt that my phone’s usage has now just shifted to a more meaningful cause, than the mindless browsing and email catch up I used to do earlier.

Learn to manage time better:  I think this one, any coworker can’t agree more. With the number of meetings at work increased to at least two fold since a month ago, and little distractions at home competing with work schedules, Covid WFH has taught me brutally to manage time much better than a month ago.  There’s no other way! New increased responsibilities at work? bring it on! I am now fully equipped ;).   Surprisingly, Covid times have not made me give up any of the interactions or duties I had to discharge as a PTSA board member either, continuing everything online..just the same , just more efficiently now as there’s no driving involved or time wasted reaching meeting locations. WFH has taught us all to push boundaries, to accommodate more in less.

Learn to respect some old practices: This one is special to me. Growing up in India, but half westernized now, having lived half my life here, I am now starting to perceive and respect some cultural aspects that makes complete sense in this Covid times, the exact practices that weren’t cool during my ‘westernization’ process. ‘Namaste’ tells it all (and is a sudden life saver that the world would now trade for a hug and handshake?). The wisdom of Yoga, turmeric garlic and ginger are now so prevalent and appropriated so much around the world for health and healing, I am now intrigued to learn the science behind many ancient Indian practices now. Including the age-old practice of thoroughly washing hands (and legs) after coming home from playing outside, routinely mandated at homes, day in and day out. All this makes complete sense to me now and so relevant at any age and for any virus !

Nature & Neighbors: A month of re-learning to connect with community has given a fresh sense of energy and spirit.  But for Covid and WFH, some of us may not have even had time to say Hi to our neighbors, let alone having empathy for them (I certainly didn’t!). But change of events in the past month, even the sloppy handmade mask I made this pat weekend with my old sewing machine meant so much to my newly befriended neighbor that could use it. I have learnt that tragedy connects communities.

I have learnt while working from home for the past month looking out the window, that the simple joys of seeing the branches of tree swaying outside in wind , watching squirrels fight for acorns in tree and seeing the hailstorm rain in April are not just for kids, it’s for the kid in all of us, and it never fails to enthrall us, no matter how old one gets!

Let the force (of patience) be with all of us..  as the greatest teacher, shelter-in-place is….

Stay Safe !