Why lockdown seems to have brought out the inner philanthropist in all of us…
I am a bit tired of people telling me what I ‘should’ be doing. Over the past two months we have most likely suffered every emotion there is. It started with grief. The pining for a life we once had that had suddenly been taken away from us with little warning. But even if we had had time to ‘prepare’, we still would have struggled. There would have been little difference. And why? Because there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you something like this. We cannot compare this to anything we have ever experienced.
We are all guilty of wishing for our moments to escape. This is why we are allocated paid leave. It is the chance for us to run away from our usual routines, jobs, families, relationships and surroundings. We desperately wish away time and look forward to the days we work all year to accumulate. And before you know it, that time you have hoped so desperately for is over. And the cycle begins again, over and over, and before you know it we are out of time. It is another year gone and we are all another year older, another year more experienced, another year still wishing we could do the things we haven’t had the time to do.
This is why the second phase I discovered was transition… understanding how to adapt to this new normal. This new way of living and thinking and breathing and being. We were suddenly forced to spend time in a place we had so often been, but rarely embraced. To spend time with people we had so often been surrounded by but never in such close emotional proximity. To understand ourselves, how we spend our time, how we think and hurt and feel. The tides of anxiety and elation; happiness and uncertainty were often over-whelming. We suddenly had to see ourselves and everyone around in a totally different light. In fact, it suddenly became an endless kaleidoscope you couldn’t put down. Here was a new game and we were all its compulsory players. Muddling our way through. Winning. Losing. Finding new undiscovered levels. Giving up when it got just that little bit too hard. Starting Over. Go to jail. Do not pass go. You have won a beauty contest. Take a chance.
But now it is has been eight weeks of this. And the game for me has finished. I have tried every level and I no longer want to take part. I have completed courses I will perhaps never use. I have walked more steps than I have in my entire life. I have an inherent hatred for the word “bored” and the phrase “reaching out”. My relationship with wine has been turbulent but healthy. My relationship with exercise was obsessive and overwhelming but now has become one of my most important. My relationship with my parents was turbulent and impatient – now it is one of mutual respect and compromise.
My relationship with my phone is healthier and more limited. My relationships with my friends are unphased, knowing that time spent with them after this will be almost better than the times before. We have allowed ourselves the chance to better ourselves as people… as children, as parents, siblings, friends and partners.
As someone in a relationship, I have learnt what it has been like to feel happiness, frustration and love all in the same moment. What used to be organised weekends together moved to forced weeks apart. The distance between two people can remind you of how well you really know a person. Or whether you ever really knew them at all. And when you see them again it can be turbulent and emotional and sometimes taken for granted. Because you are still establishing how to be yourself in this moment and balance how to be with the person you began to know during a different time.
Most of us under appreciate the way luck plays a part in this forced alone time we have together. The role that luck or circumstances play in how happy or unhappy we are in relationships. The way you have both had to change your lives for the sake of others speaks volumes of who you are as people, as a couple and how you will survive this together. Or apart.
This forced time of self-discovery has made us appreciate what it is we do like or dislike. How we enjoy spending our time. How we look ourselves. How we heal our minds.
How we just get by on a daily basis.
Maybe this is our new normality. I just hope that when our lives have to go back to any replication of their former selves, we don’t forget the things we have discovered. Never again will we get this time back. Never again will we be fortunate enough to know what it is like to take the moments we need to breathe again, feel again, be again.
This is maybe then the escape we really needed.
The one we never asked for, but perhaps needed the most.