“Seclusion, Therapy to Real Connectivity”

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As a result of recent exposure to individuals who have tested positive for the new coronavirus, an growing number of people are now undergoing voluntary or compulsory quarantine. It is slowly becoming a solitary planet.

While we can certainly do without the current pandemic causing so much death and misery worldwide, I’m starting to understand that it’s one of the many ways nature can remind us to restore equilibrium in our lives.

How? How? My “all alone” experience in the movie house helped me appreciate being able to personally and intimately connect with loved ones and friends, and to realize that digital devices will never replace personal quality time.

How many times have we seen families dining in restaurants, each member being totally immersed in his mobile phone, ignoring personal interactions with his loved ones right there, in favor of remote communication, sometimes with mere acquaintances or strangers away from a world?

Increasingly, social isolation being placed upon us by a feared virus will make us understand the importance of being completely present while we are with the people closest to us. I now realize why solitary confinement is the harshest form of punishment a prison inmate can be subjected to.

The latest rule is, “Personal distancing.” Handshakes, kiss-beso and hugs have been replaced by fist bumps, elbow bumps and, most recently, by preventing any closeness.

Most notable, however, is the widespread wearing of safety masks of all sorts, from the easiest to the most sophisticated surgical masks.

In Japan the use of masks was simply a common practice. As I asked on one of my trips why, I was told the Japanese people did so primarily to stop infecting others as a sign of social respect when the wearer was suffering from cold or cough.

Another one is hoarding the basic needs.

For face masks, they have been absolutely gone from the market for more than a month now except for the cheap, make-do cloth masks made locally.

Drug stores and supermarkets have also left alcohol and hand sanitizers of every brand— a testament to the almost relentless surge of panic buying. Attempting to buy either one or two bottles of alcohol for my nebulizer system to be constantly sanitized will be impossible because of the sudden empty spaces in the shelves.

Even, immediately after the Metro Manila lockdown was declared, followed by Luzon’s “enhanced” community quarantine, supermarkets were swamped with panic buyers of groceries and household products, particularly, believe iteven tissue papers are sold out.

Unlike all selfishness, the second big lesson we are obviously being taught is to know that we — not only the Filipinos, but all of humanity — are all united in this, and must behave together in times like this. I believe that in this crisis, and those yet to come, all nations are being guided to work together for our mutual deliverance.

Ultimately, I think the third big lesson we’re being taught is to always anticipate and be prepared for change— sudden, troublesome, global.

Seclusion has set new realization in our busy life. May this restore the true connectivity to the things that really matters.

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