The end of lockdown looms, and life as we knew it will start to re-emerge, like a wonky butterfly from a cocoon.
I know that things won’t be exactly the same again, a new normal will be established and that will take a little time to settle in and I’m ok with that, I welcome it and retain some hope that others will allow people to find their own way into the post-COVID days.
I know masks will remain, public gatherings will be limited, and that there will no doubt be some weird panic buying of some random household item at some point too if news of more spikes in infection rates should arrive (seriously, what was with the loo roll thing?). I am still wary of the masses but I am trusting the scientists.
Regardless of all this, I’m choosing to remain upbeat and looking ahead at what life might be like in the coming months and what I can best do to hold onto the things I’ve grown to love throughout this global pandemic, the things that got me through the harrowing realities and shrinking habits that lockdown inflicted on us.
There is much to forget too; Long queues in the rain for basic provisions, stepping off the pavement AGAIN because THOSE people MUST walk side by side, that guilty feeling that descends when I nip across an arbitrary border to visit my Mum (even though we are bubbled), that moment when you arrive at a shop and realise you’ve forgotten your damn mask, and don’t even get me started on the constant feed of misinformation to the addicted doom scrollers, the idiot anti-vaxers, and even more selfishly stupid non-mask wearers that claim civil liberty infringements, ohh and anything to do with the Tories.
All of those are things I’ll be leaving behind as best I can but on the whole, I’ve been very very lucky through lockdown, it’s not always been easy but there have been more good days than bad and, like most of you, most days have turned into what-day-is-it-anyway days with weekends blurring into weekdays which is both a good and a bad thing all at once. Do I prefer the arbitrary nature, that strange holiday feeling, of not really being sure what I should be doing because I can’t recall if it’s Sunday or Monday, or do I need the structure of a working week to give my weekends some meaning? I am undecided but more and more leaning to the former.
One thing I am determined to try and hold on to is working from home. Maybe not full-time but ideally only a couple of days in the office a week would be the max. I’ve been lucky enough to work throughout most of the lockdown periods and it’s not made a huge difference as most of the people I had worked with were in different buildings or different parts of the country anyway so most of my time was spent on calls and IM chats even when I was office-based 5 days a week.
Another thing I want to take forward is being outdoors. Such a simple pleasure, but one I used to cast aside for no good reason. Having two dogs, one of which needs a ‘good walk’ every day meant that for a lot of lock down it was my only form of exercise outdoors, and ohhh how wonderful it is to be able to walk around in the fresh air, regardless of rain or sleet or snow (there is no thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes after all). The feeling of fresh air on your face, watching clouds scroll overhead, and even occasionally basking in the glorious warmth of the sun. What a tiny little dot of a planet we are, what fleeting moments we exist for, I need to focus on being happy.
There will be changes of course, I will adapt but part of the reason for noting these things here is to remind myself of what I truly value. My family, my closest friends, a good coffee, a walk in the sun, a meandering cycle through the countryside.
I know I will read fewer books as some evenings will be spent visiting and eating out, I know I will experience moments of anxiety too, the return of live music gives me a pause which saddens me as so many wonderful nights have been spent enthralled and jostled as we all dance and move as one, yet the idea of being surrounded by so many people again is one my brain is struggling with.
We will find our way. Of that, I have no doubt. Things will be different, of course, yet I am aiming to retain these simple core values, aiming to retain the new habits and little pleasures I’ve found during this past strange year. There will come a time when we look back on this (hopefully) once-in-a-generation experience and maybe now is when I’m realising that it can mean something more than just death. We will mourn, but we should always look forward.
Life can be simple and if I only take one lesson from all of this, let it be this; find what is truly important to you and focus on it, everything else is just noise.