A few years ago, the quietest room in the world found its place in the news. This anechoic chamber, situated at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota, U.S. is a room without any sound. The longest a person has ever stayed inside it is for 45 minutes. Studies show that the combination of being stuck in a confined space and absolute silence can drive people mad. This explains why, despite the scientific intrigue, the room remains highly unpopular among most people.
This year has shown us a new version of the anechoic chamber. People are stuck in their homes, surrounded by walls. The sound, in this case, is the worldly noise has been blocked. There are no horns of vehicles, the sound of the metro, the ting of the lift, or the chitter chatter of vendors and shopkeepers. The world is quieter, and withdrawn quite literally to their homes.
There have been many revelations, transitions, mental and financial blows, and discoveries this year. Newer lifestyles have come into existence. The mask has become the new normal. In a twisted way, some may argue that the age of renaissance may have returned. People are more aware and awake today. They are spending more and more time reading, developing and identifying with ideologies, understanding themselves, their families, and the world better.
With spending a majority portion of the week at home, people are also more observant and able to achieve more. Surprising techniques like making pudding out of left-over bread, working out with a plant pot in place of a pair of dumbbells, and finishing the daily goal of steps by going round and round in the living room, are finding a permanent space in many homes.
The word travel that had transformed itself a few years ago with emotions of wanderlust taking over has yet again taken a new visage. While last year, people travelled from one city to another, from one country to another, today they are compelled to travel, well, from one room to another. The ones who would artistically capture the airplane’s tail atop a mountain, are now capturing sunlight filtering out of the cobwebs on a cabinet. Instead of watching live concerts and music festivals in scenic locations, people are now finding ways to clean remote corners of the cupboard.
This walk in the living room and a couple of times a day to the kitchen and bedroom has been the highlight of many people’s lives in the last five months. The narrower the spaces, the broader has been the vision of the person undertaking this journey. While the mind starts playing pictures of beaches, casinos, clubs, and snowed capped mountains, reality points towards the direction of an empty fridge and a never-ending list of groceries that one is running out on.
A vacation that was seen as a respite from the humdrum of life is now a far-fetched reality. But the positive spirit of the human mind now finds solace in the weekly grocery trips. The joy of finding your favourite flavour of jam on the grocery aisle is the same as when you picked souvenirs from the world over. And, the new rebel is someone who can travel in these times even if it means to board a flight back home or visit the hospital for a routine check-up.
A walk in this year has certainly been one to remember. With no noise and distractions, people have not only shifted their gaze to hobbies, like cooking, painting, reading, or writing, but they have also rediscovered themselves, the value of their relationships and their likes and dislikes. The world outside is filled with pretence, social obligations and pressures that, many a time, force people to be something that they are not. But the journey inside our homes is like a journey within, that can help us identify who we really are.
There are no peers to show off or bosses to impress. There isn’t anyone to please or a partner to attract. You are you. Under the flesh and bones and closed doors, you come face to face with yourself.
This walk has also been a source of entertainment. When Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar dry up, and every film and TV series has been watched and re-watched, it is the mind that takes over. The mind is a beautiful and dynamic place with hundreds and thousands of ideas floating in it. With more time at hand and a scarcity of things to do, the mind can present before you marvelling notions and revelations that absorb all your attention.
The human thirst to hustle irrespective of the circumstances, and advocate the same for others, has now taken a back seat even if that means for a while. Humans have always evolved to newer things, whether it was for better or worse. But the stagnation of this walk is dawning on most of us.
Time has definitely stood still, and there is nothing new to document anymore. But surprisingly, as the human effort to constantly innovate takes over, memories of cooking breakfast, potting plants, and even wearing a mask have made their way into albums, likely to be seen and appreciated by many generations to come.
These times have made us question: what does a walk feel like?
The walk has engulfed one and all and made its way to everyone’s life. Endless conversations are played in the mind. Every step is a deep dive into a scene that took five years from now. Every word is closely analysed. Sometimes the walks throw you way into the future, and you end up visualizing what your life would be a couple of years down the road. Maybe there is a companion walking beside you, or maybe one of your dreams have been fulfilled by now. The things you had in your mind have now been conceptualised.
This is an escape that moves you away from the reality of the times. As you walk, you could be anywhere you wish to be. Your inner self is a virtual world that is bigger than the internet. You can ski, surf, and trek in your living room. You can devour the best dishes and dance in the world’s best discotheque. And you can still appreciate the silence that is a forced one.
It all plays in your mind and it all lands in your lap as you walk to your awakening.
Cover Image from iStock by Getty Images.
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