This pandemic business is becoming more than an obstruction; it’s positively recasting our world. Whatever big or small ambitions one may once have had – whether a winter sojourn or going out for lunch at a Pho beanery – it’s all changed. After years of planning and practicing, the scenery is entirely altered. There is no escaping the present, the immediacy of it, the inalterable mould of it. It requires a complete rethinking of what one does. The traditional habits of grocery shopping, fuelling and washing the car, collecting the mail, laundry and house cleaning all prevail – but with renewed imperative. And the imperative is that that’s all there is!
Quite apart from the necessity to rediscover the winter clothing previously abandoned in a remote closet – and having to relearn the process of getting one’s feet into winter boots – there is a greater force of circumstance; namely, readapting to a life prompted not by anticipation but rather one circumscribed by the Buddhist philosophy of the Twelve Nidānas that the reversal of the causal chain leads to the annihilation of mental formations and rebirth.
The rebirth – or, more plainly denominated, the reawakening – is a venture into what was previously the babbling of the television and the blandness of the wallpaper. It is a resurgence of all that was once taken for granted, subsumed as it were within our larger exploration of the globe and all that therein transpires. This is in every respect not all bad – though it rather resembles the childish amusement of someone taking their first acid trip. For my part it has been a less toxic though decidedly more natural divertissement. In the haste of the past six years to remake myself as a retired servant to the rich – or, more generously, as a former country lawyer – I see now that I have overlooked what is before me so to speak. It is a discovery of necessity naturally, the much applauded “mother of invention”.
The enlightenment does not however suffer the commonality of the adage. Preserving oneself from a global plague is hardly to be diminished. Even the more proximate deprivation of family and friends is not entirely without its benefit – at least temporarily as I hope and trust will be the case. It was otherwise so easy to lapse into whatever the vernacular then was, to esteem oneself as worldly and savant without appreciating the gloss that it was. What was first a misfortune has translated to an insightful adventure. And all this without having to leave home!