Coronavirus is in full force around the world. With lockdown scenarios in effect, everyone must stay at home to help flatten the curve to protect our most vulnerable and ensure our health services can cope. Most people will see it, at best, as putting their lives on pause. Choosing to eat unhealthily and while away the hours on social media, playing video games or watching movies.
Or you could choose to use this gift of time and space that you have been given. In Ego is the Enemy Ryan Holiday describes a choice we have in ”every moment or situation that we did not deliberately choose or control”. Robert Greene calls it Alive time or Dead time. According to Greene, Dead time is when you’re passive and waiting vs Alive time when you’re learning and acting, and utilising every second you have.
As Holiday goes on to recount, it is often in these moments that opportunities reside, if you so choose. As Marcus Aurelius famously said:
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
Are you going to sit back and wait, or are you going to take action? Have you been putting off learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby? At the very least, it opens up time for self-reflection. We have the opportunity to reshape some of our defaults as an individual and as a human collective. In crises, we determine our real character. Do we step up and act toward our values, or do we fall back to our base form, and allow panic and self-survival to trump our better nature? Reflect on how you have acted so far in this current situation and if you have lived up to your own standards? If not, you can choose how you respond next. Remember what Viktor Frankl, having endured Auschwitz, said ”between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Are you Dead or Alive?