Today, as I sat in my garden with the sun shining on my face, contemplating this period of quarantine, it really struck me how lucky I am to have been born into a society where, despite this global pandemic, we have everything. Last week, the BBC News was full of images of India’s Mumbai where the poverty is extreme and the concept of social distancing near impossible. I can only imagine how the people are fraught with fear and worry. Why is it that those of us with so much greedily crave more, whilst those who have so little would give anything to live in even a fraction of the comfort we find ourselves ‘trapped’ within? The divisions are hugely unjust, and yet I somehow feel that during this time we have become united as a global community in our fight for the most precious privilege of all: good health.
It is frustrating how some people are continuing to go about their business as usual, ignoring the governmental directive to #stayhome and #staysafe; it grates that they are unable to see how this sort of behaviour means we are prolonging hardships across our world – and these hardships are so much more difficult for the poor. It’s not that I am judging – I know, I really do, that stripping us of our usual freedoms is tough… but surely there are things to be done at home?
I have managed to completely spring clean five double wardrobes – including my daughter’s, which was no easy task! We have black bin sacks full of clothes and toys for the charity shops once they are able to reopen. I’ve painted a canvas, started a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with my husband and children. My children have been playing ‘Labyrinth’ a board game we bought at Christmas but until now, hadn’t even bothered to read the instructions to, let alone play. We’ve been having fun with ‘Uno’ and ‘Uno Flip’, ‘Scrabble’, ‘Cluedo’, and various other games to keep us entertained as a family. We have been homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, watching so many great films (thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime) and generally having a good time indoors. I have been practising online yoga and have set up my own Zoom live classes (do get in touch to join them). My children have been keeping fit with Joe Wicks every morning although we’ve moved on to a bit of YouTube Zumba and other fitness programmes too, and we have been out on bike rides and runs – of course respecting the 2 metre social distancing rule. My husband and I (okay – mostly him, to be fair) have planted so many bulbs in the garden, ready for the summer bloom. I’ve been reading endlessly – both with my munchkins and to myself; books that normally take a month to finish are being completed in a week. This period of quarantine may indeed be limiting us in so many ways but it is also giving us the opportunity to do things we’ve neglected – things that we don’t often prioritise… things that perhaps should be at the top of our to-do lists. I guess what I’m saying is that there is so much to do in our Western society of plentitude; most of us are isolating in a fair degree of comfort and privilege compared to places across the globe.
It’s true indeed that we cannot control how long this will last, but we can control the way we deal with it. We can find things to do at home, following recommendations that are not meant as Draconian measures but rather in place for our collective safety, and we can take action to make our memories of this time as pleasant as possible. This involves self care and kindness towards all those around us. Physically we can eat and sleep well, practise yoga, do some breath work, and drink fresh water. Mentally we can read, practise mindfulness, relax with Yoga Nidra and limit our use of social media. Emotionally, we can listen to (and make) music, create art, dance, sing, and nourish our closest relationships, both physically as well as over the phone. And spiritually we can meditate and spend time in nature – especially if we’re lucky enough to have gardens.
…So as I sit drinking my mid-morning coffee in the garden, listening to the peaceful sound of nature, of birdsong, as well as the gentle hum of lawnmowers in the distance, I notice there is beauty everywhere – if only we open our eyes and really take it in.
Right now we are living history. This period will be talked about forevermore. It will be recorded in the history books; children in generations to come will learn about it at school. I know I want to do what I can in these present moments to make my memories of this time (and more importantly, the memories of my children) happy ones, despite the horrors of this awful virus. I never thought in my lifetime I would witness such apocalyptic isolation, but if humanity works together we can hopefully overcome this sooner rather than later and, in the process, spend quality time being happy and creative with our loved ones. This period is transient; the world’s freedom will return and hopefully, afterwards, we will – each and every one of us – be better able to see and appreciate its beautiful complexity.
I read on Insta yesterday that when everything is uncertain, everything that is important becomes clear. So maybe, during this global pandemic, we can open not only our own individual eyes but also our global observance to the realisation that we are all connected and in this together… and so the way out of it is also together. Stay safe, everyone, and see you on the other side.