I have been reading through some of my posts that kept me sane during the hard lockdown last year. If you want to take a gander at them, the first post is here.
Part of me can hardly believe it has already been as long as that, because those first three weeks feel like a distant memory. Sometimes I wonder if they indeed did happen, because looking back now, I realize that as tough as those first-three-weeks-now-more-than-three-hundred-and-sixty-five-days have been, I’ve adapted and grown.
Things are definitely tougher as far as the cost of living is concerned with prices of petrol, food and electricity being at an all-time high, and yes, admittedly I’m struggling, but I’m still better off than many other people who have families to feed and either reduced or no income. I haven’t had milk in my fridge for almost a fortnight, so I’ve adapted to drinking my morning coffee black, or simply waiting until I get to work to have my first cup.
I was delighted to visit with my friend, Trevor, yesterday. The last time we saw each other was before the hard lockdown started. We didn’t have much time to catch up, but we discussed quite a lot in the time we did have together. One thing that really hit home for me was (and this is only kind of verbatim) was being able to spend time with people is a privilege because we no longer take it for granted. The time we spend with people now is somehow precious. True as nuts my phone clanged seconds later. I chose not to answer. The time I had with Trevor was important and special; I could return the call when I was on my way home. As I was driving home, Malcolm’s favourite song, Time in a Bottle played on the radio and I smiled, knowing he was reiterating what Trevor and I had just discussed.
Looking back on this year, I’ve learned a few things.
People who want to be in your life will make an effort; friendships are two way streets and if you find that you are the one always making contact, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself if spending energy on this person really is worth it? I had to say a hard goodbye to Charlie at the end of February. While we stayed friends after he met Katelyn, things were never the same; we still touched base (me more than him) but the deep element of trust we’d had was no longer there. So, when he broke the news of his engagement to her two years to the day after telling me about her (because it would bet better to hear it from him than someone else), I knew that our friendship had run its course. I think for a long time he didn’t really want to be part of my life anymore, but didn’t have the heart to say it outright.
The world doesn’t stop for your grief. It feels callous in a way, but this the harsh, yet true reality. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have lost anyone to the Coronavirus, but Aunty Cathy did pass away. Despite the sadness we all feel, Uncle Bobby still goes to work every day, her children still have their families to take care of, and her siblings still go about their day-to-day lives. It doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten her; I think life carrying on helps us cope with the heartache, helping us to heal slowly but steadily.
There is still beauty in the world if we just care to look for it. We are often so caught up in the demands of daily life that we seldom stop to appreciate the small things that make life extraordinary. Just this past Saturday, Elizabeth and I bought a takeaway coffee at a place we’d not been to before. Sprawled out on the floor was the cutest little Border Collie puppy who lay so still we momentarily debated if it was alive. I stroked its soft fluffy fur and it rolled over, revealing that it was a boy. The lazy look in his eyes and a quick puppy-breath yawn had us both ooh’ing and ah’ing. Coffee in hand, we headed to The Point for about fifteen minutes where we sat watching not one, not two, but three pods of dolphins. It was a glorious sight.
There are opportunities to be kind every day. I’m not talking about grandiose gestures here, but the simple acts that can be the difference between someone having a bad day or a good one – a genuine smile and a ‘is there something I can do to help’ to a colleague can be just what they need to get through what may feel like an insurmountable task; or allowing someone in the supermarket queue to go ahead of you; or leaving a small bag of non-perishable items in a separate bag on rubbish day for the people who, because of circumstances beyond their control, are forced to scratch in other peoples’ trash bags for something to eat. There are few things as awful as being painfully hungry and not even having a slice of bread to eat.
We adapt – without even realizing it. Where we have less of something, we do something differently. For example: with the increasing price of electricity, I boil the kettle for coffee in the morning and put the rest in a flask for a warm drink when I get home in the afternoon, or use that water cook with, it takes less time to full-boil on the stove than cold water from the tap. At night I sometimes lay on the couch or in bed in the pitch dark, while I watch something on my phone. Where I often used to take a drive into town for the fun of it on a Saturday, I don’t anymore. I plan my trips into town or to my folks so that I don’t waste fuel – after all I must get to work every day, Monday to Friday and it is a 60 Km round trip every day. In these plans, I will always try to make it worthwhile, like going to donate blood, and catching up with a friend for coffee (preferably at their homes) afterwards, or do some shopping for my parents on the same day I am going to visit them. I’ll concede, it’s not always fun, but it’s also not as if I’ve needed to do an entire one-eighty to manage, albeit barely.
The Earth is slowly starting to regenerate after having its resources raped and pillaged over countless years. The balance between nature and people is being restored. More and more families are planting allotments on their properties from which to harvest their own crops, and some, Yours Truly included are trying to be kinder to the environment. Small changes might be the difference between being able to open a tap for potable water to drink in ten years or having to boil contaminated water to ensure you don’t get sick from it.
Spend your time wisely: on people whom you love and appreciate. Be in the moment with them; ignore the niggly distractions that can be attended to at a later stage – because if there’s anything this pandemic has taught us; it is that life can change in the blink of an eye.
Until next time, mask up, stay safe, social distance and remember to take time out for self-care – after all, you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself first.
On a final note, for those of you who celebrate, here’s wishing you a safe and blessed Easter Weekend.