Week 7 Day 48 – Sunday 10th May

And so, we come to the end of another glorious week – well at least as far as the weather has been concerned.

For many people, these last seven weeks will have been far from glorious. For a generation used to instant gratification, adjusting to the new normal will have been hard. Anything we might want has been available at the click of a mouse – and there’s always bigger, better, faster, brighter, further to chase after – all we need is time and money. 

But maybe we have invested too much time and effort in pursuit of the next best thing and failed to take notice of what is all around us? William Morris, textile designer, novelist and visionary, said ‘The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.’

And never before have we have had so much time to take that interest. I suspect for many of us it is human contact we are missing more than the material things. A catch up over a coffee and cake, not just a phone call, a hug with a grandchild, not just a FaceTime chat, a dinner party or restaurant outing with friends or even something that was once so routine, like visiting the hairdresser.

It may be hard to believe that some good things can come from lockdown, but here are a few of our thoughts and I expect you can think of several more.

  1. Being more aware of nature

Deprived of theatre, concerts, fairs and social gatherings, we are missing the stimulus of colour, noise and vibrancy. Instead we find new pleasure in the colours around us in gardens, parks and the countryside. Thankfully we are going into summer and each day brings new blossoms and bursts of colour. With traffic noise reduced and the drone of planes all but vanished, we are more aware of the beauty of birdsong. A sunrise, sunset or brilliant butterfly alighting on a leaf is a cause for wonder. I hope we can find ways to retain some of this when ‘normal’ returns.

  • Bonding with children and grandchildren

Deprived of our usual opportunities to meet up, we are making more regular contact and deeper connections with children, grandchildren and friends who really matter. Instead of just a quick phone call we are making real use of the wonders of modern technology with Zoom and Facetime.

  • Community support and spirit

Maybe you hardly knew your neighbours before lockdown, caught up as we often are in the daily rush of family, commute, shop, work and the juggle that holds them all together. People are looking out for the elderly and chatting over the fence and across the street with neighbours more than ever before – let’s hope it continues when we go back to ‘normal’.

  • We’re all in the same storm

We may not be in the same boat as everyone’s journey is different but this pandemic is worldwide and it has led to scientific and social connections on an unprecedented scale. 

  • A new found appreciation for the NHS

Whatever our feelings on the state of the NHS, we do at least have one and never before has so much appreciation been shown – whether it’s through the weekly clapping or the extraordinary fundraising of Captain Tom. Let’s hope these fantastic key workers get the material recognition they deserve when this is over.

  • An old fashioned notion of the common good

Thankfully, nine out of ten of us do get it. We accept that by staying home and following some simple rules if we do go out, then we are doing something good for the benefit of others.

  • Becoming more resourceful in the kitchen

Deprived of restaurant outings and maybe bored with whatever delivery options are available, cookbooks have made a welcome return and recipes are being swapped with friends. And, trying to keep shopping trips to a minimum, we no longer dash out for a handful of items to make a quick meal. We plan ahead and get inventive with what we have left in the fridge.

  • More time for exercise

Whether we choose to do it or not, for some of us there has never been a better time to get fit. We have become more aware of the need to look after ourselves and in this strange new world an exercise routine can help provide some structure to the day. Not having the time or the money for gym membership is no longer an excuse – with the wonders of the internet, we can find an online class that works for us, or even a personal trainer. And if that’s not your cup of tea, there is more opportunity than ever to get out and walk, run or cycle. Another benefit of lockdown it will be nice to see continue.

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When everything familiar is stripped away from life – relationships, social activities, plans, dreams, hopes, control and certainty – interesting questions emerge. ‘What is important to me?’ ‘What should I be doing with my life?’ ‘Who do I really miss and why?’ and ‘Who misses me?’ We all hope to ‘get back to normal soon, but deep down I suspect that we all know that so much has changed in the world beyond our front door, that normal as we once knew it has gone for good.