So here we are, with 3 more weeks of our lockdown announced, and I am feeling more each time that starting this journal was the right thing to do. Not quite Journal of a Plague Year (which is well worth reading, as one of the leading claimants of the first English language novel) but a space to connect and reflect.
One of the things I have noticed is the disconnect between the media assumption of the public mood, and the mood of those I connect with. I felt huge relief when the lockdown was extended, watching with growing horror the situation in the US I was far more concerned about a political decision which didnt follow the science. It is of course important to be aware of these feelings, and check in with them. It will be all too easy to retreat too far, withdraw within spaces and boundaries which if becomes too difficult to leave once lockdown is relaxed. Right not we have to balance safety and risk, so that we do not become trapped in the future by the anxiety of human contact.
As I may haves aid before – none of this is normal.
Another aspect I have noticed this week is that it seems for those whose went into lockdown ok, mentally, physically, materially, then a pattern and rhythm has begun to impose itself. There are still days of lockdown blues, but it is less a roller coaster and more speed bumps in the road.
However for those who did not go into lockdown OK – who were already struggling, this week has been incredibly hard. I fear for the impact on those reliant on food banks, loosing the support of care and crisis teams, struggling to cope in a world turned into the worst episode of Black Mirror ever.
One of the things I did this week is write a poem, which tried to capture the incredible thing we have all done – truly such a source of pride. And to return again briefly to politics, it is a source of such confusion to me that whilst this poem applies from Iran to Ireland, from South Korea to South Kensington, it doesn’t seem to reflect what is happening in America. The poem was inspired by the various war time and blitz metaphors and comparisons being used, ones which I think are inappropriate, since we are being asked to retreat not advance, peace will win this, not violence.
They asked us to act
To protect others
Not by taking up arms
But by laying them down
To practice gentleness
And quiet solitude
To withdraw within ourselves
And in doing so to shield them
And we did
Whilst our arms ached to hold those we loved
And our grief rose up uncomforted
And our anger raged at the callous indifference that
Slaughtered the helpers
Still we held, in our isolated selves
Withdrawing from each other
To save each other, lover, sister, friend, briother, father mother, stranger
All alone, and yet united
And there will be time for anger,
And tears will fall
And we will hold one another
But there will also be pride
As we withdrew
Not because we were ordered too
But because our hearts led us
To say, yes, we will protect you.
One of the most useful things I read this week was this piece by Dr Peter Tippet, it seems especially useful for neurodivergent people seeking the new rules of the pandemic. Guidance right now helps to quell anxiety and reduce stress levels, we need to feel like there is something we can control, even if it is just deciding what we eat for dinner.
Finishing this feels difficult this week, as if there is so much to express but not the words for it. Today I planted wild flower seeds, in the hope that in 2 months there will be a riot of colour outside my front door. Hope is what we all need right now, however lockdown is affecting us, and perhaps that is what I want to express, that there is hope, even if it is hard to see.