Thomas Hardy had written “Far from the Madding Crowd” a long time ago long before us, but for us all 2020 was a genuine far from the maddening crowd.
Summer 2019 I received a tourist visa to the US, I came to Philly, loved it and had planned to go to Hawaii in 2020, and maybe perhaps Maldives. Any of the two or maybe even both if my budget allowed it. I was ready, I was prepared.
And came 2020…
A vacation of another kind. An escape from the rat race, the 9-5 daily operations : repetitive, going on and on and on, till you’re retired. The vacation from materials and shopping the piles upon piles upon piles of beauty products. A break from just buying a shampoo because it is on sale and looks interesting, doesn’t mean I need it or that it will be any good. The vacation from over socializing, the vacation from gossiping and the vanity of malicious talk. The vacation from judging other people walking along the corridor. The vacation from envy and jealousy, the vacation from the curiosity of every trivial personal details of others. The vacation from comparison with others, when you are not meeting anyone due to social distancing, your not judging either.
It was a freedom which I haven’t experienced before. I was on a vacation in my thoughts reflecting on all my shotcomings and mistakes. I was on a vacation in the adventure of silence. I was on a vacation from university academic life. I saw that outside that tiny circle of academics, under the pressure of publishing in prestigious journals, and hours of experiments and heavy comparison and competition with peers among research groups, there was a huge wide world of non-academic people: shopowners, daily wagers, small business owners who lost heavily due to the lockdown. I saw people who I never thought about before.
I was on a vacation from an oblivious life and witnessed every part of death, and the absolute certainty that it would befall me too. I was on vacation in another universe from the fast paced 2019 and pre-covid19 oblivion. I was on a vacation from so much that I feel that this vacation was the most enlightening, profound and impactful from any vacation I had been to. This was a vacation on the discovery of the self unattached to material or honorial frivolities.
It has been a vacation like no other. The most unique vacation in which we all experienced a holiday that was the most profound adventure of all. All in all it was a vacation in the adventures of self awareness the first key in unlocking emotional intelligence. It was a time spent away from the maddening crowd and entirely inward. I was on a vacation from the world and what I found was someone and something I had completed ignored my entire life….. Me….. My own presence.
What did I get from this vacation that made it special? Resilience : an ability to bounce back better than ever, and we all did. 2021 here we come ready and resilient.