As usual, I wake up at 7.30 am, and peek from by bed, while opening the door, to the red metal cupboard to see if the food, my breakfast has already been delivered. Oh o, I feel, I am almost loosing my balance, what probably would result that I will end up lying on the floor, between the bed with the additional mattress where I sleep on, and the bed bottom that I put against the wall to create more space. It probably won’t hurt me, but I image that such a defeat in the early morning, would have a negative impact on my state of mind and maybe my wellbeing here in this locked-up situation, as I am still not allowed to leave my hotel room for next couple of days. Disappointed, I see, in a transparent plastic small bag, a slice of white bread, without crust. Again reluctantly, I get out of bed, bring the presents to the desk. I open the other paper box while standing next the desk, as I feel, this would be another disappointment. And unfortunately, I am correct, the in fatty oil drowned sausage, potatoes don’t look appetizing. As I am still standing, ditching the whole content seems to be the best option. I still have some fruit left from yesterday, the guava and banana.
I think about the multiple zoos that I have visited in my life, and the especially the cages, or better put, the environment in which the chimpanzees are locked up. They are also fed every day, probably like me, at a standardized time. Chimpanzees are the animals they are the closest to us, humans. Picture the situation, a chimpanzee, locked up, forever in the so-called environment. An endless situation, no future. I always wondered why chimpanzees look so empty, so depressed to me. Maybe they are smart enough to realize how their future will look like, their destiny. Not all animals in the zoo look excited when their food is being delivered to their cages. I start to realize, that right now, this morning October 13th, I feel a little bit like like an animal in the zoo that is not excited by the food that has been delivered by the zookeeper.
I walk by to my desk, or actually, I take one step from the bin to the desk, but walking sounds better, because it makes the room feel larger than it actually is. I grab my purple marker. I put an additional line next the the 8 lines that are already on the sheet that I created, the sheet that I taped to the door, to keep track of the numbers of days that I have been locked-up. That feels good, and today that line feel like a gamechanger. I know, the earlier 8 lines already marked my more than 50% stay in quarantine. But this 9th line feels better. Instead of looking to the days of being locked-up, I think about the days I have to stay, only 5! Such an interesting phenomenon, mathematically, 9 days locked-up or 5 to go, is just a different perspective looking to the factual status, because it is the same. But both perspectives feel so much different. I feel today is a perfect day to start counting down instead of counting the days in my imprisonment, a pivoting moment in my stay here. I double check, and yes it is only 5 days, like I can’t believe it is just 5 days. Immediately, I forgot about the zoo, about the chimpanzee, and about my breakfast.
Cheerfully, while jumping in the air and perform a wannabe karate-kick, I walk to my fruit area and bring the fruits that I saved from yesterday to the desk. Wash the guava with water and dry it. Guava is a very common tropical fruit here, and the one that I am now facing is complete green. I cut away the upper and bottom part and discard them. I see the parts next to the earlier discarded breakfast in the pink bag. Next, I cut the guava in four equal parts and enjoy them. Taste is combination of a little bitter although mildly sweet. Texture reminds me a little bit of a kind of apple, but than a little more juicy. After the banana, I drink some water and start my sports exercises. I feel that especially my muscles on my back are still sufferings from the torture from two days ago, so I decided to start only the 50% half-hour program. It is like the same kind of changing perspective, instead of focusing on the pain I feel and feel miserable, I focus on things I still can do! Almost everyone probably knows about the famous example about a cup, a cup that is filled for 50% with water. I am the kind of person that sees the cup as a half-full cup. For me, it feels better to focus and be precious on the things you have, in stead to look to things in life you don’t have. And in the example of the cup, I am not so interested in the past, such as the question why and how is the cup filled for 50%. I prefer to look to the cup as a given situation, the situation now, accept it and embrace it. After embracing that very moment, you can start to think about the future of the content of cup. You can’t change the past, so just leave it as it is. Of course, this is again a super simplified example, because the past might teach us why the cup was filled at the first place, and probably we could understand why it was filled for 50%. But again, I prefer to look first to things ‘as is’, and focus on the present, not the past or future. It is the combination of looking to the cup as a half-full cup and don’t care about its past or future.
Let’s move forward to an example that crossed my mind many times during this quarantine. Yes, I know I am not allowed to leave my room, have to stay inside. I could complain about this feeling, that I can’t enjoy the warming sun, the strolling on the streets or walking a lovely trail somewhere in nature. I can think about all the outdoor activities that I enjoyed during my whole life, or think about what I can do when I will leave this quarantine hotel room. But for me it doesn’t bring me anywhere at the moment, it doesn’t solve the situation that I feel locked up. Better for me, is to change the perspective to now, the current situation, and think about the things I can do! Or think about the things you can ONLY do while being locked up. For example read a 1000-page book without being distracted by anything or anyone; or start writing one yourself. Or finally start a daily sports exercise program that you already plan to do for many, many months, but always found some stupid excuse not to start it. Same thing for stopping the abuse of alcohol or nicotine. It is a great opportunity, to really start something new, maybe a pivoting point in someone’s life. Don’t regard it as a punishment, that you have to be quarantined for 14 days in a hotel room. No contrarily, regard it has a positive gift! A great opportunity to do new things and think, and grow stronger!
Changing perspective, is so more powerful than you think, maybe someone needs some help to get started, some guidance to be able to counteract a negative thought, like learning to walk or cycle. Happiness is something found within ourselves, and the ability to change our perspective, can have a significant impact on our own happiness. Thinking back to the chimpanzee in the zoo, I don’t know how he feels, if he is happy or not. I wish he could also change his perspective, and enjoy his stay at the zoo, but I am afraid, that ability is not part of his toolbox. I keep hoping, I am wrong. Thinking about the last sentence, did I change my perspective?