Life Practice 1: Zoom in, zoom out

As we continue this era of physical isolation for indeterminate duration, our daily lives begin to normalize. We ease into our new structure to settle into a routine. Depending on how long the distancing rules will be in effect, we could lapse into autopilot mode the same way we had done so during our pre-virus normal. Keeping with a work week routine we rise at the same time, shower, and dress, eat, and then “commute” to our home office. We might break for lunch with our co-isolators in the kitchen and retreat back to work for the afternoon. We could be reassembling for supper, enjoying an evening walk, and then watching television before retiring at a decent hour.

Not much is changing out there in the world. The leaders continue to string us along week to week, now month to month, with glimmers of hope for the beginnings of the path to the new normal. We’ve by now begun following the more accurate predictors on social media, clinging to their forecasts of what the new normal might become. Just as we are becoming adjusted to life under lockdown, we realize that others are not so lucky. There are those who cannot work from home, those who are stuck in bad home situations and those who are helpless in other ways. Sometimes the friendship offered by social media is just not enough. We crave social interaction and the comfort of friends in proximity.

And then there’s the bad news about violent rampages which still occur despite the lockdown. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones, those who have witnessed the violence and those picking up the pieces. 

Coping during times of change

During this time of major change in our daily lives we are faced with finding new ways to deal with old encounters as they occur. In the past we could find comfort in our friends at work, friends in our social groups, or just getting away from it all with a close companion. Physical isolation prevents us from partaking in these soothing experiences. We require new way to cope which align with our current situation. One such method is a technique called Zoom In, Zoom Out.

Zoom In, Zoom Out

We can’t escape our own perspective in how we interpret our world. Each experience is processed from within a context of who we are and where we are at that time. We empathize with those to whom we relate and sympathize with those who share similar experiences. A birth mother feels the pain of another mother’s childbirth, and feels bad for what the other parent is going through, having witnessed that in their own partner.  

A way to understand our experiences is try to see them from a different perspective. Difficult as this may seem at first glance, there is a technique which allows us to see an event from multiple perspectives, adjusting until we find a comfortable zone of understanding. This technique involves zooming out to different points of view and then slowly zooming back in, all the while taking in any information we can grasp.

If you are feeling alone, zoom out as if in a Google Earth view and count the people on your block. Imagine them in their homes living their lives as best they can. Ask yourself what they might be doing at this time of day or night, what they have just finished doing and what they might be planning for tomorrow. Next, zoom out to your city and repeat the exercise, focusing on particular neighbourhoods and speculating as to how they are living their lives. Broaden your perspective and zoom out to country, continent and world view, seeing that there are many others in the world just like you. Contemplate what those people they might be thinking or doing at this particular time. Are they with others? Are they alone? Ask yourself how you would cope if you were in their situation.

This technique can take a while or it can be very quick. The more you practice, the longer you will find yourself contemplating at the different perspectives. Zooming back in can be a slower process since you are bringing back with you the ideas you pondered while zoomed out. You might find yourself pausing longer at certain levels of magnification; this is where you will be most comfortable. Some of us find comfort knowing we are part of a local community, while others may find strength in their nationality.

Is there a perspective which helps you with understanding?

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