It hasn’t been the best year, let’s be honest. All the various memes that have come through the feeds of my socials are testament to that. And while I haven’t been directly affected by either the Australian bushfires that kicked off 2020, after beginning in 2019, nor by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been plenty to adjust to and plenty to learn. And as my great city returned to lockdown a few weeks ago, it was a good time to consider what I’ve learnt so far and look at the positives that can come from another six weeks of what is basically isolation at home. I’m in a very lucky position to be able to even think about this, as I know there are many people out there doing it tough. But that just means that I need to take responsibility to make the most of the opportunities that arise. And if you’re in a position to do so, I invite you to join me.
So what are the things that I learnt last time around that I can build upon now? You’ll probably think that these are all no-brainers, but I think there is a great deal of importance in the simplicity. So these are the things and what I’ve learnt, in no particular order apart from that which I wrote them down!
During the last lockdown I spent some time each weekend with my oldest mates on Zoom. We’ve kicked that off again. And I talk to some of those mates at least once or twice a week. I’ve been friends with these guys for over thirty years, so dipping in and out of a conversation is easy, and we’re all there to support each other, in spite of the physical distance between us. But I do think about the people who don’t have a raft of close personal relationships to fall back on. I just hope that they are able to do some little things, like meditation and exercise to keep them on deck. On the days when I don’t connect with other people, these are the things that keep me going.
I do find that things in life are much better planned in a lockdown situation. Everything from food to finance has a much better structure around it. Only going to the supermarket once a week means that you have to really have to think ahead. Thinking ahead for me means that I think about what I eat much more. I haven’t been making sourdough or banana bread… but I’ve been thinking about what I eat. And also what I spend. This has meant much more money in the bank. I know that’s not everyone’s experience. And I hurt for all the people doing it tough. But I can be grateful for where I find myself. And I can show my gratitude by making the most of it.
Fresh Air & Unplugging
Spending so much more time at home has an art to it. In the last lockdown I became attached to my phone, like so many others. This is definitely something I have learnt to manage, and it will be a skill that I’ll take into my post-lockdown world. I also realised how important it is to just get out and away from screens. I have a nice walking path near my house, and almost every day I’m on it. Even with a compulsory mask on my face, I really enjoy getting out in the green and feeling my muscles working. The mask fogs up my sunnies and makes me labour a little with my breathing after a while. But it’s definitely better than a ventilator.
It has to be about the little things now. You can’t be waiting for the big things to find joy. You need to stop and notice the moments, so that they don’t flit by and become meaningless. I’ve found joy in connecting regularly with those I love. But there has been joy in much simpler places too. In having a clean kitchen. In reading a good book. In getting all my washing done. In spending time with my son. You don’t have to look very far to find joy – you see, it’s in the present moment. It’s now. Joy isn’t found anywhere else. So don’t try too hard. Just be where you are.
So that’s my lockdown. Things here aren’t as nasty as they are or have been in other parts of the world. So I feel lucky. I feel joyful. And I’m finding the joy, right now, smack bang in the middle of the lockdown. I hope you find it too.