Life Hacks: Seeking beauty in the monotony of the lockdown effect
Because we’re fed on clichés such as ‘Strive to make every day a masterpiece’, it is inevitable that most of us feel despondent at times like these. Despite starting out with the best intentions, our days become monotonous because we’re locked down.Updated: Apr 20, 2020 09:08 IST
Because we’re fed on clichés such as ‘Strive to make every day a masterpiece’, it is inevitable that most of us feel despondent at times like these. Despite starting out with the best intentions, our days become monotonous because we’re locked down. It is only human to think about what can be done to escape that monotony.
But examine history and you will see that monotony appears to be inherent and essential to the human condition. In fact, humanity has progressed on the backs of those who embraced monotony and imagined it as a series of elaborate rituals.
By way of example, Isaac Newton was most prolific when everyone was quarantined at home during the Great Plague of 1665. He used the time alone to think about differential and integral calculus, formulated a theory of universal gravitation, and explored the nature of optics by drilling a hole in his door and studying the beam of light it let in. How much more beautiful can the human mind get? In a more recent context, consider something as monotonous as the washing of hands. It has now been imposed on us. What can possibly be exciting about something as monotonous as that?
Well, when looked at through the eyes of award-winning writer Atul Gawande, if not done right, it can take those whom he examines closer to death in his day job as a surgeon. All research and his experience articulate strict protocols physicians must adhere to while performing what sounds like a perfunctory act.
Turns out, a hand wash with plain soap can reduce bacterial count, but this isn’t good enough. To wash well, an antibacterial soap is needed. But to wash hands the right way, all external objects such as a watch or ring must first be removed. Following which the hands must be held under warm water for a few moments. Soap must then be dispensed and lathered on the hands and lower one-third of the arms for 15 to 30 seconds. The hands must then be rinsed for a full 30 seconds in warm water and dried with a disposable towel. Only then is the act of washing hands considered complete.
Now, this begins to sound like an elaborate ritual. Failure to engage in this ritual can spread infections and cause death. When this ritual is examined closely, there is purpose to it. Done well over the long term, it can make the difference between life and death, many times over. All evidence has it that washing hands well is currently our primary weapon against the coronavirus. What does that imply? That we should accept that life will sometimes be monotonous. But we can me make that monotony worthwhile by examining the little details inherent in it, and turning practice to perfection, deliberately.
(The writer is co-founder at Founding Fuel & co-author of The Aadhaar Effect)