IMPROMPTU, I MISS U
"Chasing the money and working so hard your life passes you by isn't what life is all about.
Sometimes you need to take a step back, breathe and re evaluate things."
Steve Jobs (on his death bed).
As we saunter/stagger/stumble/wail hopelessly *(delete as appropriate), into week four since BoJo's carefully honed instructions to 'lockdown' wreaked varying stages of panic and routine-destroying reality upon everyone, how is everyone holding up?
Hopefully the fleeting feelings of rage, frustration, terror and boredom that intermittently arise, are quickly sated by the gratitude for health and wellness. For those that are not so lucky and who are sick with the virus, we wish them a speedy recovery. For those who have tragically lost the battle, they are in our prayers and thoughts.
A few observations as we soldier/flounder into week 4/5/6 (depending on when you started lock down).
A long haul state of mind is going to serve us better than a Trump-esque styled assumption that we'll be outta this and back to work in no time. That statement certainly backfired for him as visions of mass graves in NYC went global. It's better to assume we'll be in lockdown longer than we actually will be. It would be like to assume we were popping off to Ibiza for a week when actually mid-flight to be told the destination had changed to Sydney. How that long flight would drag and how ill-equipped mentally and physically you would be to get through it.
THE DEATH OF IMPROMPTU
Some of you may be slaves to routine and know what you are doing weeks, months perhaps years in advance. Every weekend has been mapped out to within an inch of its life and you know what you're doing in the third week of November even though it's early April and you'll probably know (or have cooked and frozen) what you'll serve at that dinner party you've booked in and you've got a fair idea what you'll wear too. I don't know how, but I do have some friends like this. However, for those who live more by 'the seat of their pants' mantra and are not even sure what is happening at all until you yourself are in that day, you will find this lockdown perhaps more challenging. There's something truly wonderful and life affirming about impromptu boozy lunches or last minute dinners or even popping to the pub for a cheeky pint just because, YOU CAN. There is simply no such thing as even 'popping to the supermarket' at the moment. Grabbing dinner last minute at a time when you didn't have to plan something so mundane so meticulously seems like a distant luxury. Even logging on to book your supermarket delivery is tiresome - the most fun part being you laughing at the ridiculous number that you are in the queue.
THANK GOD FOR FOOD
Who knew before now how much time you could dedicate to the simple act of planning meals and eating. This is a lockdown time-munching certainty and I'm grateful for it. It starts with the attack plan of which shop to go to, when to go, who to go with, how much hazard clothing kit you need to don and then of course what you can get your plastic coated mitts on, once inside the new look stores with their green dots, hazard lines, plastic screens and strict trolley and human positioning rules . Then you can spend the next part of that process once back home, wiping everything down with anti-bac wondering at some points if you could poison yourself with an overdose of the very thing that is meant to save you. And then the real fun starts as you administer a few days meals knowing in reality, at any given point the constant conveyor belt is going to balls up your meticulous game plan because all of a sudden people who you live with appear to never stop eating. If you're not chopping or cooking, fear not, there'll always be the washing up or dishwasher duty to dust down the crumbs from the last 'snack' or clear the decks before starting the next feeding time at the zoo. It's borderline seamless.
At base and without the distraction of routine, we really are quite the same as the creatures we ogle on nature programmes with some fascination - spending the day setting out the strategy of how to get food, gorging on it and then needing to sleep it off. There's apparently no way off of this cooking/clearing up carousel in the short term so try and enjoy it and I'd probably suggest accepting the forever fact that your thighs are merely becoming more disobedient and will not social distance, no matter how hard you try.
THE LOSS OF SCHEDULE
When in the throws of normal life it is very easy to imagine yourself to be much 'busier' and 'in-demand' than you actually are. You say no to things because you work you have kids, there's karate, singing, judo swimming, work emails etc. It's easy to put people off and say 'this week's just mental,' 'no gaps,' 'can't do it, shall we try for next month' blah blah. Unless you're a front line or key worker these days, nobody can hide behind the 'I'm way too busy mantra.' The most pressing thing about these days for most is 'can I be arsed to do any exercise? 'what can I put in my mouth next,' or 'is it ok to have cocktails or champagne on a Tuesday?' Of course the answer to the last question is yes.
Perhaps after this has passed, we will stop using this all too convenient 'crazy busy' label and make time for the people that before now we would take for granted or would give so much now if we could just have a hug and a good old catch up sitting closer than 2 metres.
MONDAY MAY WELL BE OUR FRIEND AGAIN
We all know the bad reputation that Monday has - the end to the weekend starts for most on a Sunday afternoon as you prep yourself for the unfailing start of the week alarm clock that wakes you up far too early and catapults you back to routine and reality. Of course we all love Monday's when they are bank holidays and usually there'd be a collective groan as everyone had to get up after a double bank holiday and get back into the swing of it all. However I am hearing cries of 'I wish I was going to work' of late and so perhaps we will be less judgemental about Monday's after this. Instead we'll consider them as a positive that indicates that hundreds of thousands of people are not dying from a killer, invisible virus. But rather, an indicator of a world getting back to normal, earning a living with some structure and security for us and our children for the future and the freedom to roam and come and go as we please.
I look forward to the end of the lockdown indecipherability that is SunTuesFriWedSatThurMon-day.
With the loss of schedule and made up, masked or actual 'busy-ness' this is a time of having to look at ourselves and GO INWARD. It's a time to not be able to hide about who we are, what are lives are like and how well we know ourselves. Who really are we in this revealing test? How do we and can we cope when faced with such a challenging situation with such an uncertain end? Perhaps if this feels overwhelming (and I know that it is), pay attention to a present moment during your day. Watch the sun rise and set, listen to bird song - all of that remains constant and unaware of the horrors. Or of Spring unfolding before us in all its rich green and other colours, bursting forth regardless of the war that rages. Or simply refocus attention to your breath and it's constant, unfailing rhythm.
That is the first step to fully appreciate and be thankful for the space in which you are alive.