Love Letter to Lockdown
Maybe there was a collective energy in the air, manifested by the masses, for our world to slow the f**k down, and become still for a moment.
I'd been chatting on the phone with my sister back in January 2020, and we both made the point that we needed a pause, a pulling out of the plug, a disconnect from the fast pace of the world for a while. It was all feeling too shouty, too fast, too hectic, like Times Square on an acid trip. Everyone wanting this, selling that, trying to be the busiest, the best, the prettiest, the richest, the coolest, the most popular, the most politically pissed off. Relentless demands to read this, send this, watch this, post that, reply, reply, REPLY. Comment, like, follow, buy, buy, BUY. Travel, consume, live your best life, instagram the shit out of it, lie, lie, LIE. The world felt too fast, as if we were all running faster and faster to keep up with each other. But like greyhounds on a track, we were chasing a target that wasn't even real.
I get quite easily overloaded in my senses, and need to retreat a lot just to steady my mind. A hour with the duvet over my head in the middle of the day - my cat under there with me - is a regular occurrence. It's my version of 'turning it off and on again'.Some people go for a run, or coffee with a friend. I hide from the world a little, to reset.
So in March 2020 when it was announced that the country would enter Lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, amongst my anxious alarm, I was keen. An unknown length of weeks, maybe months, of staying home, sounded as if it was something I had secretly ordered. On school days I used to fib to my Mum that I had a headache, just so I could stay at home and ignore the day. Lockdown felt like a grown up version of that. No need to find excuses to avoid that social gathering which I really didn't want to go to. Diary emptied. An introvert's delight.
I'm not saying that a global pandemic is a reason to be pleased, nope, noooo way, but, what came with it felt like Mother Nature giving us one big telling off, insisting that we all go and sit in our rooms and have a long hard think about what we have done.
It felt like an exhale. Hiding from the outside world, just my cats and me, felt like a never-ending Sunday. I love Sundays. There was fear and confusion (and financial fret to say the least) but it felt collective, a sense of community in the truest sense. I heard sounds that I hadn't heard that often since childhood. The daily ditties of the ice cream van (playing 'Is this The Way to Amarillo' over his tannoy, making me chuckle at the idea of him possibly being the actual Peter Kay). The church bells chimed every hour, I'd never realised how close they were before. The birds were louder, more cheerful in the cleaner skies, they woke my cats at 4am every single day. All these sounds had gotten lost before, beneath the soundtrack of small city life and I hadn't even realised. I live on the edge of a small city so I consider it pretty quiet, but once the morning babble of neighbours driving to work, children, dogs, students and locals walking by subsided, we were left with a calm silence which only amplified how noisy this street had been before. I enjoy the sounds and signs of life going on around me (excluding the two students next door who saw lockdown as an opportunity for constant loud sex, gah, I heard EVERY grunt and groan) but it was beautiful to be in a shared shhh for a little while.
A stillness, a simplicity, a stripping back to basics. Days had the tempo of a jigsaw puzzle slowly being placed into life. The time was there to cook, to really cook, to read and to talk properly on the phone, to care about others. Life is the things you have in front of you, and lockdown forced us to see that good things are right here, every single day. Maybe we all stopped looking. When I'm in my dark depressions, one of the ways I try to slowly shift out of that state is to focus in on small things. Flowers peeping out of the soil, my cat's damp beautiful nose, a stoic grand old tree which stands strong throughout all changes. When the world feels too much, when my mind feels very dark, zoning in on the simplest wonders is always the first step to feeling better. Something in our world had needed to shift, and this pandemic has created a massive turning point in human history. Nature is not simply a backdrop for human existence, it is what allows life and we are only a small part of the whole big picture. Had we all really gotten so out of step and self consumed that we needed a new death-dealing disease to make us all slow down and breathe, to really see each other, and the beauty all around us?
Sadly, I think we had.
I first penned this piece in May 2020 in the depths of the first national lockdown.
I'd love to chat with you in the comments, and if you enjoy or learn from my blog writing, I'd be more than grateful if you ever feel able to buy me a cuppa. xx
Balloon art by @blcksmth