The coronavirus crisis has been an exercise in sacrificing freedom for safety, physical safety. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s good to sacrifice. Sometimes, the risk is just too great.
But this loss of freedom brings up an internal conflict in me, and maybe in some of you. It pits my ‘be safe and secure’ side against my freedom-loving, joyful side. (Not, I might add, that we can’t find joy in any situation, but that’s a thought for another day.)
It pits the side of me that wants financial security and refuses to mountain bike against the side of me that left a secure job to follow her dreams and used to turn airplanes upside down.
Does this conflict sound at all familiar?
Here’s the question that really struck me:
“How much of life do we want to sacrifice at the altar of security”?
I look at my parents and their cohorts who are confined to Assisted Living or Nursing Home care. Here they are, in the twilight of their lives, isolated and lonely, away not only from family but also from each other.
They don’t leave their rooms, even for meals. Many of them don’t understand why their family members aren’t visiting them. They have little entertainment except the television and maybe an iPad, if they know how to use one. Oh, the activities people do their best, but they are all essentially in solitary confinement.
Is that a way to live?
I’ve talked to the nurses and caretakers there. They admit they are seeing a mental and emotional decline in some of the residents. People who weren’t confused before are showing signs of increased confusion and anxiety. My father told me, a few days, that he had nothing to look forward to. It broke my heart.
For a month or two or maybe three… this isolation might be okay to keep them physically safe. But if this continues, what’s the point of them being alive? Would I rather have them take the risk to socialize – at least with others in the facility – than live out the rest of their lives lonely and bored and anxious and depressed?
I think I’d rather see them happy and engaged in life, living as fully as they are able for a shorter time – rather than just be alive for longer. I think they would too.
The reality is that living fully, freely and joyfully requires taking risks. A life fully lived is never a life that is perfectly safe.
I think of the times and ways I play it safe in my life, and they are not usually the best of times. They are not usually the times when I feel free and alive and joyful. And I ask myself…
What am I sacrificing to feel safe right now, and is that bringing me freedom and joy?
Sometimes, it is. And that’s great. When it’s not… well, what change do I need to make?
I challenge you today to look at your own values, your own beliefs, and your own desires… and ask the question for yourself – lockdown or no lockdown: