The Universe has spoken.
Weary under the pressure, creaking at the seams, we have been sent to our rooms to think about what we have done.
For decades, scientists have been warning about the devastating effect that mankind’s evolution is having on our natural world. In 1965, Lindon Johnson declared in a speech that ‘this generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere’. In 1980, Maggie Thatcher gave a speech about ‘the remedies for change’ – though she blamed most greenhouse gasses on the communists and the hippies – she still addressed the issue of climate change as pressing. A new found popularisation of individuals like Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunburg has us thinking that this is a phenomenon of the last decade. On the contrary, in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989 we had an opportunity to solve the climate crisis.
That opportunity has been taken away from us. Our sheer drive to excel, improve and invent the next best thing has caused our planet to cry for help. We can believe whatever conspiracy theory we want about COVID-19 but all that matters is that it recquires us to slow down, to take note of what is important and to care for ourselves and those around us.
It’s an odd concept for us in the ‘modern’ world, stillness. Our days are filled with schedules, rush hours and ‘I’m sorry Sharon but I’m absolutely too busy to listen to you at the moment, I have a list as long as my arm and my head is filled to the brim. Could you kindly fuck off?’
So now we’re separated from our agendas, our daily tasks and busy lives. For some of us, our loved ones have been taken away from us, forced to reside within the safety of different homes. The activities we fill our days with, the things that we do to occupy our minds, to distract us from the space inside our heads have drawn to a hault. The freedom that we took for granted, the jobs that we resented, the food that we ate whilst doing something else, unaware of the taste. All of these things that made up our lives, the things that we didn’t realise we needed, have been taken away. In such uncertain, dire times, how do we find joy? Positivity? The silver lining.
We find it first in acceptance. Accepting that an invisible force is travelling through our planet, taking lives and causing panic. We accept the facts and desperately try to ignore the hysteria, focusing only on what we know is true. We accept that we have handed over control, to nature, to the governemnt, to our fellow humans who we hope respect the boundaries put in place. We accept that this will be difficult, that money will be tight and prosperity will feel distant. Then in this acceptance, we are able to press reset.
No longer are our days filled with immediate deadlines, with the pace dial set to fast. Working from home becomes a vehicle to filter what needs to be done, the stress melting into the agendas of a not so distant past. With no distractions we can learn of what is important to us, what in our life has been a hinderance, letting go of all that doesn’t serve us. We can move closer to the things that bring us happiness, security and comfort; be that people, music, an activity or a place. We can try to do the things that we never had time for. We can try to learn. To listen to those around us and hear the stories pulled from favourite memories. We can read. We can move our bodies not for vanity or pace but because it feels necessary, because it breaks up the day and it makes us feel alive. We can cook as though the ingredients mean something, as if each component is as important as the final dish. We can panic, worry and feel world weary but only for a little while, only whilst it doesn’t feel all consuming. We can notice who cares for us, who checks in and who we’re yearning to call. We must learn new hobbies, read more books and express ourselves in different ways.
The stars can be seen only in the dark. Let’s pull together and focus on the benefits of this challenging time. Take it seriously, but don’t panic or speculate beyond the news at 5 ‘o’ clock on the BBC.
It’s difficult to implement, 12 weeks of social distancing and isolation. For many, loneliness will at times feel overwhelming, with old daemons floating to the surface. Know that you are not alone, that routine is as important as it ever has been and that there is plenty to achieve within the compound of your home. If the place that you are forced to isolate does not feel cosy, safe or full of love, take care of yourself wherever you can. If the place that you are forced to isolate does feel cosy, safe and full of love, never take that for granted. Lean into the love, implement boundaries where necessary and think of all that can be achieved inside the home and inside your own mind. The possibilities are endless.
This is temporary and the sun will shine again. Lives will of course be lost but there are qualities and behaviours to be gained. The climate is recovering and our mindsets may be changing. What is important to us as a race has the potential to shift, how we enact with one another and the emphasis that we put on kindness.
Let’s use this time to become better people, better friends, family members and neighbours.
We can do this. Stay safe and stay in touch x