“For any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just to what you’re feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you’re reading.”
― May Sarton
Lockdown (in the UK) is testing the very fibre of our being. We can pretend otherwise (being stoic and all that other heady stuff…) but we’re social creatures and being cocooned for this long just ain’t good for the soul.
That said, and this is my view, I’d like to think, over the last 12 months, we’ve learned something of our deeper selves and haven’t got lost in the reverie of thinking only about the past, hoping in the near term to recreate it lock, stock and smoking barrel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that save that (surely) these inflexion points are here to teach us something of our higher selves, if not then it’s almost as if we’re acting on auto-pilot.
The one thing (it’s not just one thing but this is probably the exemplar of my point) it’s taught me is that I don’t need much to be happy. Instinctively I knew that but the pandemic has evidenced that a daily walk, a cup of coffee, having a dog (how we all love Alfie) and of course a job with which to put food on the table and support our children, is life-affirming and sustaining.
Now you might say that that looks like a decent life — a very good one in fact — and I wouldn’t demur. In fact, as I’ve so often remarked, I feel deeply blessed and particularly with my wife’s job and the little she shares with me, I know how much some people have and are still suffering with (inter alia) Covid-19, the loss of loved ones, the isolation and their mental health. Me? All I’ve got to contend with is raising myself up for another day or legal prognostications, being open to the moment and staying out of harm’s way — not that I’ve been anywhere or intend to do so.
What’s also struck me, during these last 12 months at home, is how unmindful I’d become in doing the whole work/living/life routine bit. Oh sure, the weekend was a time to reconnect but I did so more in spirit than substance and whilst I felt a little better from the rest, it didn’t take long before I was back to my agitated best! Not now. As I’ve written about a few times, I’m now much more alert to all that life offers — right here, right now in this very moment. Even when I’ve been flayed out by dint of long and unending video calls, paying attention to the smallest detail — e.g. the brilliance and taste of a dark, rich, fragrant cup of coffee can be truly life assimilating and sustaining. I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic but what I’m getting at is the more we slow things down and bring our full attention to the one thing we’re engaged with, the richer life is and can be. The other thing that’s haunted me, and I’m sure losing my father-in-law brought this into full view and expression was that even in the passing of these very bland days, we need to remind ourselves, almost on a daily basis, that they won’t come again.
In making these points, all I’m trying to do is give you a flavour of the uniqueness of (my) life, even one scarred by the pandemic. Of course, your life is your life and how you’ve coped and sustained yourself may and is likely to be very different to mine but I’m sure there’s a deep, abiding connection for all of us even if we’re not able to connect in person.