In January I stood in my kitchen drying up. I moved to the radio and turned up the news which was reporting on a Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan Province in China. Contemplating this I moved into my office and stood for a few moments inhaling and as I exhaled I distinctly remember whispering to myself , “this is going to be something that will effect us.”
I am sure that I am not the only person who stopped to consider the likelihood of this being a problem here. I am sure many will have had a similar moment in response to these early broadcasts but I am struck how many times, there has been a moment in my life, which stands amongst the thousands of others in a day yet manages to outdo the longevity of them all. A fleeting moment which carves itself into the architecture of my memory and has formed the foundation of the years which followed. Is it intuition – I like to think so but certainly it’s odd how we pick up on words and conversation and they reverberate in our days, long after they are heard.
In the first weeks of lockdown I could not fully grasp what was going on; although I understood and took all the recommended precaustions the actuality of the situation, even as Lockdown commenced, just didn’t seem to register. I existed in a vacuum , desperately trying to get through each day , one task after the next, trying to juggle my work and looking after three children. Days became structured around the time when we could go out for our exercise, which , each day was becoming harder to turn into something novel. I relished the small victories but just getting through until the third week was increasingly more difficult. The days hung over me and each move was framed with tears. I was angry, tired and lonely. Tired of the youngests’ constant activity and angry with the eldests’ constant inactivity.My daughters chattering failed to stove of the need for company and in amongst the silent breakdowns I hung myself out to dry.
The air though was clearer and the call of the crow became a familiar comfort in sound. The wood pigeons followed me from my childhood and became the new day breakers instead of the rattle of diesel engines. Shouting starlings accompanied the lowering light and a flock of seagulls kept the rhythm of the day in check circling to let the evening float in. Their comical cries kept the memories of the beach flowing and with this memory I allowed myself the hope that this would soon all be over.
Months later I declined the invitation from my radio to turn on time instead I left the silence playing , enveloping my day as I created new spaces in the house to accommodate our different needs. The front door wasn’t opened in 3 months, instead it was barricaded with surf boards and a shoe shelf to allow a bit more running space for the little man.
Slowly , incredibly slowly, days grew a structure and within this the tears subsided and new relationships were unearthed. These relationships extended to outside the home and the street became a place where you could walk through and get social nourishment rather than an opportunity to be fuelled with rant and cortisol.
Perspectives changed and despite the physical parameters of life shrinking, the future opened up. Days were fulfilling and nights were a time for sleeping, uninterrupted by the overspill waste, piled up from an unfinished day.
So the prospect of it all starting again doesn’t fill me with the kind of dread that I felt all those months ago. Granted this is still an unknown and it doesn’t fill me with joy but …… and this is a big but, I can do this – we can do this. Let’s use this opportunity wisely like so many of us have done and fill the days as we did before but this time let us really consider how this down time can be used to improve ourselves through our relationships with others and through exploration of old hobbies and new.
I don’t want to appear pretentious because what I say is the result of having little but finding out how happy I am with that. Tapping into the spiritual side of being and seeing how rich we all already are , if only our minds were cultivated to think that way. This isn’t about money or access to lots of people or having your own home. What we can do for ourselves and each other is class free, race free, and gender free. We just have to learn to look at things a bit differently – like the guy in Groundhog Day, take what you have and do something with it instead of searching for something more outside of what is available right now. At least then you can find a bit of satisfaction at the end of the day.!