How are you coping with our new normal? We’re nearly two weeks into the most significant period of reduced freedom in living memory, and there are no real clues yet how long it might go on for. Covid-19 is the only topic of conversation, the numbers of people who have lost their lives to this virus are sadly escalating rapidly, and many of us have had our first taste of someone we know being badly affected. The suffering is real, and the world is sad.
It is so hard not to focus on the rubbish side of all this. Because the rubbish side is, well, more horrible than most of us can really comprehend. I’ve certainly been guilty of scrolling through my social media feeds endlessly, getting more and more stressed and disappointed at the things I’m reading. I’ve also been very good at being irritated by people who apparently have it all sorted out and are able to instantly learn new skills and generally have it all together. I’m not actually annoyed by positive people who are making good of this weird situation, of course, but it’s hard not to let the green-eyed monster infiltrate sometimes. Coronavirus is bringing the best and worst out in people, and I sit somewhere in the middle – trying to find the positives in it all whilst being an emotional wreck. I commented the other day that I feel like I’m living from one snack to the next, and (having just devoured two bake-at-home croissants with oodles of jam), and that was no lie.
While I try and work out how I might properly adjust to this temporary new normal, while also not becoming desensitised to the scale of the pandemic, I thought I would dedicate this weekly blog to some of the things I am grateful for at the moment. This isn’t meant to be one of those life-coach-style “it’s up to you to make the most of this time” articles, I really don’t want to do that to you. It’s also not meant to trivialise how grateful I am for my home, my health, and all the wonderful people who are keeping our health service running and food on our supermarket shelves. Rather it is an acknowledgement that sometimes it is the simplest things that make life a little bit more bearable, and it’s okay to be happy about the littlest things. This is what has kept me going this week…
The most important thing to me in all this, the thing that is (just about) keeping me sane, is the fact that I am still permitted to get outside and walk during this period. Spending time outside, in the fresh air and natural light, is so important to my survival, I am incredibly grateful that I get to continue. How long that will continue for, I don’t know, thanks to the selfishness of some members of society, but for now I am doing my best to make the most of this limited opportunity.
Most days, as I still work full time even though I do that from home, I take some time in the middle of the day to go for a walk around the village, marching with purpose (this is meant to be exercise after all) along streets and footpaths in loops of various sizes. Some days I might walk a route I know well, other days I might have a gander at the map first to see what footpath or cut through I can investigate. When I am not in such a rush to get back to my desk, at the weekend or when I take a day off, I will make that walk a bit longer, still heading out from my own front door, but maybe walking to the next village or just seeing where I end up.
I know that I am fortunate to live in a reasonably quiet area, when I walk in the village itself I might see a few people also out for their Boris-approved walk, but in the main social distancing is reasonably easy, especially as I generally avoid parks and public spaces. I am also fortunate that I can be surrounded by nature by walking just a few minutes from my house. I know many people aren’t as fortunate in this and struggle to find quiet, nature filled spaces that aren’t already full of people, and I certainly am counting my blessings. But I hope that whatever your surroundings, whether you live in a green or concrete jungle, that you are able to find somewhere for some outdoors time.
There is no doubt about it, I have watched a lot more television in the last two weeks than I have for a very long time, and I am more than a little bit grateful for the fact that I can continue to enjoy the Arts even if the cinemas and theatres are closed.
Pre-ordering Disney+ a month ago was one of my best moves, I feel, and I have been more than making the most of it, working my way through some of the new stuff, as well as a few old animated movies that remind me of my childhood such as The Aristocats, Robin Hood and The Rescuers (heads held high, touch the sky…), and some documentaries including The Imagineering Story and The World According to Jeff Goldblum. The launch of Disney+ couldn’t have been better timed – have you been taken in? What are your top picks for me to watch this coming week?
I’ve also been enjoying some of the “live” shows that have been broadcast on YouTube. Three highlights have been the National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnor’s (such a great watch, lots of laughs, highly recommend), Peter and the Wolf from the Royal Opera House (a perfect introduction to ballet and classical music), and possibly the weirdest version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat courtesy of The Show Must Go On. While I don’t believe that everything should automatically be free to us because of what is happening, I am certainly grateful for some large arts organisations for making their productions accessible to the masses.
In the Mail
Another thing I am very grateful for at the moment is that we are still receiving post, thanks to the posties and courier drivers continuing with their daily duties. Yes, it’s frustrating that I can’t buy the paint I wanted to get to use my days at home to decorate our bedroom because everyone else was more organised than me and now the site is closed, but I’ve been enjoying getting a few bits and bobs in the mail anyhow. All things we needed, that I would have bought anyway, but it’s still a little bit exciting to hear the doorbell ring. A new barbecue cover after ours ripped to shreds in the storms earlier this year, some bulbs so now all the lights work in the lounge, and I also got a big box of goodies from Ordnance Survey including my new GetOutside jacket from Craghoppers and a flask from Hydroflask. Oh, and my copy of Countryfile magazine also arrived. I might have also treated myself to a new pair of slippers (definitely an essential purchase with spending so much time indoors) and some new trail shoes after mine wore through (these ones, hope they’re comfortable!) which should arrive at some point this week. Yay for post!
The Internet is Brilliant
I guess the thing I’m most grateful for at the moment, is that we’re living through this pandemic in the age of the internet. I know the internet is full of fake news, conspiracy theories, trolls, whinging and moaning, and the rest. But it also means I can keep in contact with my family, can chat to friends on social media, can run random quiz nights, can listen to music and watch movies, order new trainers, and share my story in the way I have become accustomed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced to stay at home without the ability to make up for some physical contact with the virtual contact we have instead. The internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a utility.
This Week’s Question
I guess, given the topic of my weekly blog this time around, my question to you is obvious and inevitable. I’ve already answered it… now it’s your turn.
What have you been grateful for this week?
I genuinely do hope that you have things to be thankful for this week, that you have found something to make you smile in the middle of all the uncertainty and difficulty, and that you are feeling blessed. Drop your answer in the comments below, or come and tell me over on twitter.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, if you think my weekly blog series is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday at 6pm (ish!!!) for the next in the series.