When I used to go for my daily run late in the evening – which almost always ended up being a jog more than a run – very few people would be visible adhering to a similar fitness routine out on the roads.
And then a pandemic hit us.
Jogging through the busy streets today made me realise that something entirely new has been occurring as we’ve been strapped down at home.
The modern world has meant that everyday life usually unfolds at a pace that most of us secretly or overtly desire to slow down. More so, working from home has only ended up tightening our schedules, increasing the workload and has reduced the number of leisure hours we had for ourselves.
The lockdown has forced us to stay indoors for over five months now. Some of us were accustomed to having a busy day and a few moments of relaxation where we laid back and enjoyed half a movie or a few episodes of our favourite shows. Nonetheless, we have now been stuck in our homes, a place we used to love – including the bed we so desperately desired to return to.
Also read: Walking in the Times of Corona
After the strict enforcement of a nationwide lockdown, the country is slowly opening up. Whether the lockdown actually achieved the desired results is still up for debate, but restrictions are being gradually lifted. The policing has become less severe and people can now move out of their houses without fear, or with less fear.
Even then, the semi-lockdown hasn’t restarted the economy to a level that we go back to our old lives where we craved a goodnight sleep after having gone through a tiring day at work. The old chair and bed at home now endure our constant presence and what we once loved have now turned into enemies, at least for a few of us. I envy the rest.
When the sun sets and electricity-powered lights start illuminating the walls of the same room we were stuck in, the troubled mind starts playing games. Our only remedy is to walk out the door and be somewhere else. Maybe this is the reason why the streets are so crowded.
Earlier, during my ‘running’ hours, you could count the number of people on the road. The common sight was an athlete working out for the annual marathon and speeding past you. At times, it was the elderly couple looking for some fresh air. Finally, it was folks like me – who wanted to be fit, but not that fit.
Today, when I stepped outside for a run after nearly four months, I had to run the two-mile distance with quick course correction every few meters so as not to bump into someone. People have flocked to the roads – some in an attempt to escape their tiny cabins, while others are probably looking to shed those few unwanted pounds that came along with the lockdown.
When I asked some neighbours about their newfound hobby, nearly everyone had the same reply: “How long am I to be stuck inside the house?”
I don’t blame them. We are a species full of contrasts and contradictions. Once, we used to hate the outdoors after all the chores were done. Today, we embrace the same, even at the risk of contracting a deadly virus. The simple reason is that humans find it difficult and mundane to stick to one routine for a very long time.
Our implicit bias is to shed the regular in the search of something new. The evening stroll, in my opinion, has more to do with peace of mind than the act of exercise. We tag along with the same people, at times, even with our own family or flatmates, hoping that the change of scenery may inspire new conversations; conversations we so dearly crave during this dire lockdown.
Running, or jogging, is time for unwinding to me. I am lost in thought, wandering the cosmos of possibilities until I start running out of breath. Then everything turns to a mental struggle before the lap is finished howsoever possible.
Maybe this is what everyone was looking for today while walking through the streets – having a moment free of worries and outside the home that has now turned into a workplace. Makes you wonder – will there ever be a constant that brings peace to this intrepid and restless species that took over the world?
Feature image credit: Daniel Joshua/Unsplash