Delving into the Intangibles

   Under the mask  

After wearing a mask for almost a year, I find that half of my face – around my mouth to be exact – is getting visibly older, perhaps because I don’t feel a need to pay constant attention to my lips to stay attractive. As I don’t go out, I have no need to dress up, and so tend to spend my days unkempt. To add insult to injury, lack of exercise and built-up stress have weakened my legs, both inside and out, and a once beautiful silhouette has gradually sagged. No amount of vaccine can totally bring us back to normal. Could it be we are also mentally affected? Even if it is not a case of forfeiting the “grey cells of the brain”, in the well-known phrase of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, we still have a lot to lose due to the Coronavirus.

These days, we take the unthinkable for granted: Work from Home, Online Drinking Session via a screen. I’m quite at a loss when people say, "Let's chat on the Internet." I feel old, because I cannot keep up with these rapidly changing times. No one can turn the clock back. The only thing I have learned is the art of ordering things online. Without stepping outside the home, we can get almost everything, except "love." That is not sold or, at least, seems permanently out of stock.

I look forward to meeting my friends on the day masks are no longer required. I think we would see exactly how each of us has spent the year. Not only our appearance but also our sense of values might have changed. Hearing others speaking differently than before, we might discover that we, too, have changed.

I hear a lot of my friends have been busy with "danshari" lately, not buying unnecessary things and throwing away what they don’t need: "decluttering,” as you say in English. They are surprised to find their lives are bloated with things they don't actually use. I think they have come to realize they have been relying on tangibles to get by, but can do without them.

It can be said that all human beings have been put "under the mask" worldwide. We are all equally threatened by the power of something invisible – an intangible. Isn't this all part of some great gimmick in which we have let ourselves become trapped? I wonder if this could be a warning to us earthlings to stop buying and eating so much, hell-bent as we are on destroying nature and the environment. Imagine how much of the earth would come back to life if each person stopped for a moment, thought, and changed his or her behavior! Now might be an ideal opportunity to start valuing quality (intangible) over quantity (tangible). Quantity always has limits, but quality can be pursued indefinitely.

All the talk today is about vaccines, vaccines, vaccines. But will the miracle doses really make masks unnecessary? Where does the Coronavirus come from, and where are we headed ourselves? Is humanity really an endangered species? Perhaps not definitely, but we do seem to be on the verge. Still wearing a mask, I’m thinking constantly about this and that.

  K.Yamakawa -Founder Feiler Japan       
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