Since my last post in January of this year, things have radically changed. Covid -19 is causing havoc throughout the world and President Trump is trying his best to upstage Covid-19 at every turn and lead America in to a chaotic meltdown. It has been a strange time to say the least and one which I hope no other generation has to live through, though history would seem to indicate that we rarely learn from such events.
Like most people, my plans, dreams and hopes for the year have had to be amended, adapted and in some cases even delayed/cancelled. But these are minor issues, everyone I care for and love has so far remained unaffected and for that I can only but be truly grateful for 10’s of thousands in the UK have not been so fortunate.
On Monday 6th July I am supposed to be setting off on a 4 week tour through France and into Spain, with the intention to have been to ride down the west coast of Spain, up and around the east coast before then heading back to dear old Blighty to begin the second year of my History degree. Sadly this has been cancelled (not the degree) , well postponed would be a better word I guess, till next year at the earliest (as long as in the meantime giant 10 legged bugs haven’t devoured the earth’s population! Nothing would surprise me at the moment)
I have been interested in what lockdown has taught me about myself. I rent a room in a house not far from the university I attend, so have limited contact with anyone other than when I am at uni or out and about. My children live in Southampton and my brothers and sisters are dotted around the UK. Normally this situation suits me well, I’m free to come and go as I want too and not one (or so I thought) that is bothered by periods on my own.
But being on your own and being alone I have discovered are two entirley different things. One is through choice and the other necessarily isn’t. Lockdown put me in a position of being alone, restricted in what I could do and how I interacted with others. Lockdown was the absolute right thing to do in my opinion, what other choice was there, so I have no complaints with the concept. It was the removal of choice that hit me hardest, the restrictions on your personal movement/interactions is not something many of us have ever encountered. For the first week or two I could cope, but as it went on I began to find out that I couldn’t, there was a growing sense of feeling trapped. I love wide open spaces and staying outside for as long as I can, hence the solo travelling. I love crowds and noise and people bustling by, even if I am not interacting with them. I need to feel free! The shift from being on my own to a feeling of being alone took me by surprise and was overwhelming. I lost motivation, direction any kind of daily routine and I knew I was heading to a bad place if something didn’t change.
As so often happens, when I need something or someone to help me out, a facebook conversation with a former manager of mine allowed me to secure work on a temporary basis with an immediate start. It was a godsend. Life began to have routine again, I got up each morning and went to work in an office (temporary workers it would appear can be easily replaced if the need arises) chatted to my former workmates and felt like I had a purpose. Night times could be taken up with an exercise walks and essential grocery shopping and the four walls stopped feeling like a prison. I am still currently working and grateful for the opportunity as life slowly tries to get back to some kind of new normality.
I didn’t see my children in person for 10 weeks, my eldest son is asthmatic, and the thought of accidentially passing something bad onto him kept me away. Zoom and Facetime are wonderful things, but seeing your children on screen is not the same as being with them. I missed them greatly, missed being in their physical presence, missed giving them a hug. I have since been to see them more often as restrictions have permitted and have sat with them in their garden (all social distance requirements fully maintained) delighting in the chatter and laughter and have, at last, given them a hug.
How this all ends up, I don’t know, but it has made me once again think about what’s important and what isn’t and to try and feel more grateful for all that I do have. There are many people who find themselves, through no fault of their own, trapped indoors even when not in the grip of a pandemic. Loneliness is a terrible thing and can catch you unawares and strips away so much of what makes us human. We are social animals, we need interaction to maintain a stable mental condition. When you no longer have that it is hard to motivate yourself to do anything, to find direction to even dream perhaps. It would be great if one of the lasting effects of Covid-19 was to make us as a society more caring, more inclusive, more community focused and aware of each other needs. I hope that some good will come from such a devastating period of history.
Love and hugs