So, here we are, weeks into lockdown, no idea when we will come out of it. For me, and many families around the world, this is also the Easter holidays. Whilst so many people around the world are struggling to adapt to the enforced stay-at-home protocols, as they adjust to the dramatic change in social situation, and the absence of schooling and usual work life, there are also many, many people, including myself, who are working somehow harder than ever before.
My phone and social media are rife with messages, of frivolity, dark humour, inspiration, risk rates, health care guidance, let alone melancholoy, anxiety, frustration and some despair. Loved ones with children are somewhat overwhelmed with their newfound 24 hour parenting regimes, single friends and loved ones are verging on the balance of gratitude and loneliness, and then there are us teachers, finding their way through the mud. Somehow, akin with the parents, we need to keep children reassured that everything is fine, fine, fine, and that it won’t be long at all until we are back together , when they can return to their daily squabbles, curious moments, and mind-opening sessions and routines.
Many of the parents I know, have the idea that I have nothing to do given that I am not a child-bearer myself, and that I am one of those captured within the many memes going around….
(Yet I actually don’t fit in either of these)
Having upped and left my home, with basically no notice nor chance to absorb the impact of what this would feel like, I had less than 24 hours to pack up two bags with what I could only presume I may need in the days/weeks…(maybe it is going to be months) ahead. This involved considering what I would need to continue working on my Masters paper, to keep up with my teaching and SENCO role, resources I may need to continue providing counselling as well as tutoring sessions, clothing for all seasons (let’s face it, I did come to the UK…), and last but most certainly not least, working out what I would need/want to bring some semblance of ‘home’ and self-care with me. And now, weeks into this regime, I find myself sat on my laptop from dusk til dawn, looking almost as fried as the bottom right picture above! I am trying to balance meetings, support sessions, soothing worries from parents, keeping in contact with friends far and near, having a watchful eye over my family, managing my sense of resolve/calm amidst the storm, running Skype groups, organising my studies, and fitting in an exercise opportunity here and there. Hmm. Not quite the “I’m so bored” story that is emanating the media airwaves.
There have been pulls on my thoughts and time in various directions since I touched down on UK soil, and not all of them can be met from my cocoon of a cabin! I had grand ideas that I could go running every day in the beautiful fresh air and countryside views that are abound the Shropshire Union Canal. Instead, it seems sleep and I have fallen out, and work just keeps building up. I lie awake hour and hour, (4/5am last night), restless, tired, too long or heavy in my own body. Then I wake hazy, chilly (not yet acclimatized back to my homeland), and less and less vibrant/energized than the day before. I greatly seek the time for delving into dadirri, to sit with my mum, to sing, to practice my asanas, to call my dad, to laugh with my friends.
Anyhow, I am still relishing how blessed I am and how incredible my life and opportunities are, so it doesn’t really matter. No, I am not run-ragged with the upkeep of children. And no, I am not busy making home improvements, learning new languages, creating an amazing new exercise and health routine. Nor am I having the time for all those delightful extended conversations with all the people I love, miss, crave to see, to hold, to be near.
But, I am here. I am well. I can now hug my mum. I eat well, I drink fresh water. I have my beautiful ‘grandma’ blanket wrapped around my shoulders each day to keep me warm. I have my job, my home to return to (eventually), my friends reaching out to me, my family all safe and now in good health, and I have my heart. So, even though I am not really getting the ‘holiday’, I am not alone in this, and overall, I don’t have a reason to complain. After a return 6-mile walk for food rations last week, I was able to ‘ride’ the Trojan horse. Following a slightly painful run in the fading sun this late afternoon (my knee is starting to scream at me from far too much time sitting still as I tip-tap away on the laptop), I found the neighbour’s dog joining me for ab-crunches.
And that’s the key really isn’t it. None of us could have foreseen the situation we are now in. Had you have been asked a year ago, to consider that we would all be told to stay at home, not go into our workplace, stop seeing the people in our lives in person, and to then mentally adjust to what it means to no longer have to physically rush from one place to another; well, you would have been laughed out of the room. Yet here we are, and as with all that life brings to us, we can but live it.
The last Saturday I went “out”, was only a week before I boarded the one-way flight away from Africa. Even then, we were laughing and joking at the absurdity of what the world around us were doing. But now it seems like a lifetime ago. Which part was real? The then, or is the reality really the now?
(In a matter of moments, life went from ‘just hanging around’, to celebration of light overcoming dark, to being ‘locked’ in, to the biggest practice for us all – just breathe).
It is a strange time we are in. One none of us have known before. But it won’t be the last of uncertainties in life. And it is also the unfolding of what needed to come. Resisting results in nothing but turmoil, no matter the situation. So here we are, and here we continue to be. For me, it is not a time to climb the walls, either in my mind, heart, external view or sensibility. I haven’t got a guide map to this, but then again, nor have you. So, I will continue to wander and wonder, just as I always have, and always will.