Thursday, April 23, 2020

Awakenings: Thoughts From A Lockdown

I've spent weeks grappling with the new world order. Trying to form some sort of sense from it in words that suddenly seem too small.

From the rumblings of something strange happening on the other side of the world months ago, to the confusion that it was closer than any of us had suspected. 'Poor Italy', we said. 'How could we not have known?'

We were still untouchable at that stage. Going about our normal business, doing things that are now extraordinary - like going into an office to work and meeting friends for dinner. We had no idea what was coming until it hit - like a strong right hook when all we had expected was a couple of gentle jabs. The announcement of the school closures pulsed through the airwaves, allowing no room for any other thoughts like 'what's for dinner?' and 'when is that report due?' In a matter of seconds everything shifted. The world ceased to turn while we held our collective breath.

How apt that the dawn of the next day was Friday 13th. The days that followed would be filled with an onslaught of information - messages, classes, emails, whatsapps, phone calls.
How to Work from Home! How to make sourdough! Free crafting classes! Instructions for first years! And Third Years! And 5th Class! How to use Dropbox! How to volunteer! Store Opening Times! Free PE! Primary School Books! Secondary school resources! New Government Announcement! And a billion memes.

So. Many. Memes.

I dive into the freezing sea on the morning of Day 1, washing the unwanted party of thoughts from my head and resetting my system. It brings calm and clarity and a new addiction is born. Here I am forty days later still diving daily into her arms.

After awhile my little tribe begins to find a new sort of order - one filled with Google Classrooms and Zoom calls, basketball hoops, skateboards and afternoon strolls. A slowing down of time and a shrinking of space occurs, and it is quite lovely.

I find I am guiltily happy. Revelling in the quiet roads and birdsong.
But a tune, a piece of writing or a memory will cause me to unexpectedly well up.
All emotions a little closer to the surface than usual.

In those early days I am filled with plans and projects. Then wiped out with sudden lethargy come the afternoon, lying on my bed mindlessly scrolling through newsfeeds and messages. Sometimes I catch myself simply staring at the sky, clouds drifting by in watercolour paint strokes.

Day Dreaming. How long it has been since we have had that luxury.

Some days I feel the unraveling of our delicate balance like a physical force. I forget to breathe and the tension within the four walls with five people inside begins to rise. I know that once it blows we will come undone. And so I close the bathroom door and stick two rebel fingers up at the child on the other side, or leave the house on a solo Covid-rage walk. Filling my lungs with fresh air and positivity. Resetting myself, and in turn the family, like dominos.

There are many BIG QUESTIONS to grapple with. Connection. Community. Capitolism.  Europe. The Environment. Love. Family. The Meaning of Life. Death. Humanity.
This global pandemic has brought these questions to the forefront of all of our minds. The 'because that's the way it is' dead end response to everything has fallen away. As a society we have started to wonder about real change and whether it is actually possible. Could this actually be a catalyst for good?

Sometimes it's all too big and all too much. But the big questions and the big themes actually all revolve around the little things. The things that we now know in our very bones is the important stuff.

The quiet walks with teenagers that normally lock themselves in their bedrooms.
The outpouring of gratitude and respect for the healthcare workers.
The note pushed through the letterbox offering shopping trips.
Old fashioned letters sent to loved ones.
The snuggling of babies in bed.
Watching a bird in the garden.
Or the blossoms on a tree.
A safe space to call home.
Time spent with family.
Checking in on others.

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