Lockdown has been an odd time for many people, including myself.
One day I feel on top of the world, the next I struggle to stay afloat. In the blink of an eye, weeks have turned to months. I have begun to settle into my new routine and into myself. I have started to realise that maybe I don’t miss “normal,” nor do I feel the urge to rush and return to the alluded “new normal” that is yet to come.
This time must have taught us something, right? What is it?
Waylon Lewis mentioned in his weekly Elephant Journal retreat that our approach to this pandemic should not be “economy” versus “people’s lives” and he said that we’re presented with an either/or situation. That line was so striking that I found myself thinking of this dangerous framing the entire night.
I would argue and take Waylon’s words one step further. I think when it comes to people’s lives, an “exit strategy” that’s motivated by money, for those who are already wealthy, does not cut it. The graph of projected recession, the financial doom, and the gloom to come are the least of my interest. However, I care about my family, my friends, my neighbours, my community, and all of us.
The daily death toll is always precluded with the words “let me be clear” when nobody is being clear at all. Now, I’m the one who wants to be clear. We don’t deserve this pandemic to be politicised and made into a publicity stunt. We deserve people’s lives to be at the forefront and a driving factor in the way out. At the end of the day, we got ourselves this far and only us, the lucky ones, can get us out of this alive.
They haven’t told us that what lies ahead is not a steep trajectory toward where we once were. They have tried to convince us that soon we will be “back to living the days that we enjoy.”
What if nothing will ever be the same again? What if we weren’t enjoying anything before this global COVID-19 outbreak? For me, everything will change and I’m glad for that. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to space out and dwell in silence.
What if it took me two months of lockdown to unlock the chains and release myself from being locked out of what is best for me, my wants, needs, hopes, dreams, and feelings? What if staying home and walking along the river alone has helped me to find myself, voice, and true friends who have encouraged me to believe that anything is possible, and that I can love and accept myself the way I am?
I’m not ready to go back to my nine-to-five life and work five days a week. I’m not ready to do a long, daily commute and get home every evening when it’s nearly dark outside, to shower, sleep, and repeat.
I’m ready for something new. I can hear the sound of change. It is rumbling as people are beginning to awaken and relish. The sound of the birds, the view of the sky, the taste of homemade meals, the feeling of true content when I listen to my heart, when I meditate and carve space for me.
I’m not going to end this by using a cliché line and conclude that we must never go back to normal. In reality, we can’t. We can only move forward, together, and embrace the newfound sense of community and smiles. Let’s be grateful for another day, another sunset, and another sunrise.
I’m aware that many people’s lives have been taken, affected, changed, or impacted on so many levels because of this dreadful pandemic. I’m also aware that the struggle isn’t over yet and, for many, it has only begun.
But, surely this has to teach us something. It took me a public health crisis to pick myself up from the corners of productivity that left a stamp in each aspect of my life—I need to be grateful for that.
It might be beneficial not to refer to this pandemic as a “public health crisis.” This was a time when heroes were born and some of us spoke to our neighbours for the very first time. Some people even heard themselves and chose to listen, for the very first time.
I am grateful for what I’ve learnt in this lockdown and grateful to be alive. The pandemic has taught me about myself and about what matters. I am grateful to sit here and write this, to be published in a community that listens and values the voices of others, even though we may not always agree.
In short, I am grateful to be able to take a deep breath and say “this is me.”
What are you grateful for?