Gigi Soh

[Tag lines: In response to the pandemic/ The confinements of lockdown/ Post-Covid 19] 

In all honesty, how many of us out there have come across such tag lines plastered all over the internet during the past couple of months? Instead of adding to the waves of uncertainty we face, this article aims to magnify the importance of an everyday object- soap, and uncover how something so ordinary has had placed onto it intrinsic importance in the unworldly times we are living in. 

2020 has definitely been a year that is volatile in its course. With everyone betting highly on the new decade, and the contrasting reality surfaced in an array of unfortunate events; leaving us dumbfounded and utterly uncomfortable.  

As bleak as each approaching month may seem, maybe this is the exact moment we have all been shaped for: the year where the combustion finally alludes a need for change, awakening humans from our ignorant slumber. 

“Things are not getting worse. They are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight as we continue to pull back the veil.” – Adrienne Maree Brown 

As human beings, we tend to be dazzled by the outlandish and peculiar. Oftentimes we neglect interest in the mundane objects that do not try to grab our attention, but make a vast difference to our lives. The day-to-day objects that commonly go unnoticed are usually the ones that carry the most interesting of stories, in their intricate details. It is amazing how the act of washing your hands used to be something so simple and merely a normal part of your day; now, it has become such a crucial part of our lives, a universal practice we carry “together, together”. 

This personal project hones in on the specificity of soap in correlation to the current situation. Channeling the different forms and characteristics, it adopts an association with the evoking of the mind. Presenting the four different stages of responding to current times, the journey towards being more patient and mindful. 

1. Loss of familiarity  

“Don’t worry about feeling confused I think a lot of people worry with. Because under normal circumstances we can grieve, we can cry, and really unload emotions. What’s going on at the moment inhibits that.” – Author unknown, a video on Covid-19 

Foreign-familiarity is a difficult concept to grasp. Everything seems awfully familiar, yet the circumstances are ever-changing. Time is still represented by night and day, and we need to remind ourselves that it is completely fine to lose our bearings in times where everything is muddled and grey.  

Confusion stirs the air as we begin to observe the breeding of new thoughts, emotions, and sensations, with the experience differing across individuals. Comparable to soap, we are seemingly aware of its purpose to cleanse, yet it takes the form of all sorts of scents, shapes and colours– from soap bars with preserved lavender, to liquids with exfoliating crystals, and powder blue soap nestled in a detergent box.  

2. Anxiety of the new 

“We have somehow all internalised this idea of supposed invulnerability. We tend to think that bad things happen mostly to other people, far away from here. Now, we are being confronted with the fact that our family and friends could also be affected, which makes us realise we are far more vulnerable than we ever realised.” – Jean-Pierre van de Ven, psychologist and author of the book, It Should Be Drastically Different 

The feeling of susceptibility follows the observation of a shift in movement. A natural tendency of the mind is to evaluate a situation based on former preconceptions. The anxiety of the new comes when we hold ourselves back from experiencing the direct sensations the mind and body offers. 

The reaction between soap and water portrays the chaotic medley of the old and new, with neither being of use in executing the cleanse without the other. A beautiful partnership of the two, with the lather formed portraying the anxiety of the new that comes with acknowledging and staying present. 

3. Internalisation 

“Mindfulness, as a very broad overview, is about learning to use our attention with intention. It is about noticing things as they happen. That gives us more room to respond in ways that are more in line with what we actually want, instead of just reacting to whatever comes our way.” – Yogaclance, for Tropika club magazine 

Accustomed to our world centred on instant gratification, and with situations being momentary, oftentimes we are hasty to react. 

With the pandemic being something long-standing, it is important to learn how to slow down, and adopt a kind and gentle curiosity towards one’s experiences; to view it in a non-judgmental stance and take things with an open heart. 

The practice of mindfulness comes in when we do not prompt ourselves to control or fix an unpleasant experience instantaneously. To acknowledge what we are lacking in and focus on the areas to improve on, rather than shaming ourselves for lacking and being aggravated by the emotions that come along with it. 

Like washing, the act of internalisation analyses the bulk of the symphony, fine-tuning the key notes for our growth and filtering out the unnecessary. 

4. New Normal 

“Don’t allow anyone to define your reality for you. We are all deeply creative and adaptable beings. As we become more self-aware, we can create our own realities with more confidence.” -Yogaclance, for Tropika club magazine 

Moving forward, we are obliged to comply to a new wave of normality. Adapting to new demands of physical and mental well-being. Lockdown has proven our adaptability to be more extensive than ever, rethinking and improvising as we handle each diversion. Maybe, just maybe, the end goal is not to formulate a new sense of ‘Normal’ for society to morph into and follow, but to be hyperaware and in line with our response towards our own reality.  

Words: Gigi Soh, Storehouse Content Team, @thecheesychick

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