Indian Spine Journal

: 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 8--9

COVID-19 pandemic: Tapping the opportunity in the face of adversity

Siddharth N Aiyer 
 Department of Spine Surgery, Sancheti Institute for Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Siddharth N Aiyer
Department of Spine Surgery, Sancheti Institute for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Shivaji Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra. Orchid ID: 0000-0001-5034-8783

How to cite this article:
Aiyer SN. COVID-19 pandemic: Tapping the opportunity in the face of adversity.Indian Spine J 2021;4:8-9

How to cite this URL:
Aiyer SN. COVID-19 pandemic: Tapping the opportunity in the face of adversity. Indian Spine J [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 16 ];4:8-9
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Full Text

The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the entire globe off-guard and has practically left no city, country, or continent unaffected. This pandemic is considered the biggest since the Spanish flu in 1918 which had an estimated 500 million infections and between 50 and 100 million deaths. The COVID pandemic numbers have seen catastrophic rise, with larger waves of infection as the pandemic has spread across the globe. The most worrying part of current state of affairs seems to stem from the fact that every wave has been larger with higher number of casualties. The latest global number of affected has touched 60 million and an overwhelming 1.5 million have succumbed to the infection. Simply put, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest “adversity” the human race has seen in the last century. So, in the face of such a formidable adversary how does one make most of the opportunities presented?

This pandemic has seen some unprecedented measures in an effort to control its spread which has included nation-wide lockdowns, restriction on gatherings, shut down of schools, workplaces, and travel restrictions. At the outset of the lockdown, the uncertainty and unpredictability of the situation made most of us uneasy. This lockdown brought along with it financial crisis, unprecedented layoffs, and global recession leaving many at the verge of a meltdown. This loss of livelihood in turn led to mass migration with further spread of the infection. The pandemic has taken more than one lakh lives in India alone, leaving further collateral death due to the loss of livelihoods and financial hardships.

Medical practice has seen more physical and mental stress than ever before. The risk to one’s self and the exposure of the near and dear ones at home to a possible source of a COVID infection has left most doctors anxious. As a result, a considerable number of doctors have chosen to stay away from active clinical practice till the pandemic ceases. We have seen a large number of courageous and valiant colleagues who worked in COVID centers contract the COVID illness. Stories of friends and colleagues who have lost their individual battles to the COVID infections have caused immense grief and sorrow among all of us.

Adversity means “an unfortunate/unfavourable condition that is marked by misfortune, calamity or distress.” When faced with a formidable adversity, often the vision and thought process can become skewed, to such an extent that opportunities are invariably overlooked. The quote by Robertson Davies “The eyes can see what the mind is prepared to comprehend” rings true in these trying times. People get engrossed in keeping track of the pandemic and the mind and eyes cease to decipher the opportunities that beckon at their doorstep. Certainly, the COVID pandemic has been a formidable “Adversary” against which we continue to fight a battle. A battle which is likely to last for many months and not losing sight of the opportunities that present before us is the key to making the most of such trying circumstances.

 Time to Introspect

The single biggest opportunity that the pandemic has presented to all of us is time for “Introspection.” A timely pause and introspection during our rat-race lives can be considered to be the first step on assessing and evaluating available opportunities. Introspection allows us to see and comprehend the opportunities, reassess past mistakes, and can be considered to be the key stone step toward self-improvement.

 Family Matters

A family is the very basic unit of our social lives. Often in our hectic work schedules, the family commitments are relegated to a secondary position for want of time. This pandemic has given us an opportunity to reconnect with our near and dear family members. It has practically allowed three generations of the family tree to come together from grandparents to grandchildren. These generations have been able to spend quality time together. We have all personally seen the closeness that our children have developed with their grandparents during this forced family reunion/retreat! Renewing family ties is an opportunity that we must embark upon in the times of the pandemic.

 What We Can Live Without?

The pandemic has definitely shown us clearly what we can live without! These changes may not be permanent but at least in the temporary realms it does seem possible. The pandemic has forced us to stop a number of activities such as movies at the theater, shopping at the mall, social dinners, parties, and weekend getaways. We pursued these in the past to unwind and to destress. Often overlooking other opportunities that help in personal growth and can be equally great stress busters. This may be in the form of rekindling personal interests and hobbies to unwind and destress. Spending quality time at home with our near and dear can be an equally rewarding and a fulfilling experience that is definitely an opportunity that was passed over in the past.

 Rekindle Personal Interest and Hobbies

The last few months have offered an excellent chance for us to rekindle old personal interests. With social distancing, webinar platforms are teeming with opportunities to reignite old hobbies. These stretch from physical activities such as yoga, to activities involving performing arts such as singing and dancing. The COVID times offer us an opportunity to learn new activities which you always hoped to have tried but never managed in the past. These may include fine-art activities such as drawing/painting to learning a new language.

 Value of Health

This pandemic has reinforced the belief that it is never too late to invest in one’s health. The COVID infection has left us bereft of any definite treatment options. In such a scenario, till a vaccine becomes available, building immunity, regular exercise, good sleep, and nutritious food stands to be the best defense against the virus. Investing in health, one opportunity that is often neglected otherwise, comes to the forefront in such times.

 Return to the Basics

COVID infection has “so to say pressed the ‘ALT+CTRL+DEL’ in our lives.” We have been given the option to open our life’s “task manager.” All programs that were meaninglessly running in the background and taking up valuable resources can be shut. It is in an essence the opportunity to return to the basics. The break from the routine clinical practice offers a chance to truly explore the “continuing medical education” that as clinicians we must always endeavor to meet. There is a great scope to catch up and complete all pending research projects and “tend to complete unfinished business!”

The pandemic saw some of the cleanest air quality conditions for decades in India. Stories of sighting of the Dauladhar mountain ranges in Punjab to sightings of dolphins in the Haji Ali bay in Mumbai have intrigued us all. I think this is truly a wake-up call for each one of us. It is an opportunity to introspect and think about our environment and the future we leave for our coming generations. This pandemic has surely taught us that we need to explore the options of leaving a smaller carbon footprint in the years ahead.

 Sticking to Your Daily Schedule

I would think that the best way to seize any opportunity is to stick to a daily routine. Quite often in times when routine work pressures have reduced, a considerable amount of time and resources are wasted on things that otherwise do not fall under the gambit of being either important or meaningful. Activity and productivity are often equated; however, there is a considerable difference. Any and all activity does not lead to productivity. Sticking to a daily schedule is the best way to still keeping yourself active and also productive.

Even this “ASSI-essay competition” can be considered to be an attempt at tapping opportunity in the face of adversity. Over the last 10 months, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit all of us, routine clinical practice has seen a considerable decline. In such a scenario, participating in this competition comes as my humble attempt at tapping an opportunity that otherwise would have been left unexplored.

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Conflicts of interest

The author has no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.