What are you doing?! What are you thinking? You got a plan or are you just going for chaos? Put a grenade of fear and suffering in our worlds and sit back and watch?! I’m a strong believer in ‘meant to be’ and all that, but I’ve got to admit that I can’t get my head around this one. That said, I do trust you, and I want to try and focus on positive things that are coming up. I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s suffering or fears in any way but there are some positive things I’m experiencing and witnessing. I thought I’d write about them, and focus on what I am grateful for, not the shit stuff that we are, of course, all completely aware of!
After almost two weeks of lockdown, not allowed to leave the flat for anything other than food shopping, I’ve had some ups and downs. For want of a better way to describe it, I’m going with ‘the five stages of lockdown’. Stage one had a kind of novelty factor; watching the news in shock, wondering if we were overreacting, following social media posts almost religiously and checking in with everyone I love and worrying about them. Stage two was eating biscuits. Stage three sucked; restless, anxious, realising how impermanent everything is, existential mind-fucks, more biscuits. Stage four felt like depression; judging myself for not being more productive with my time, no motivation, no creativity, just a bit low and reaching the limit of how many biscuits a human can eat. I’m at stage five today; freedom.
Even with the world around us being a scary place, I’ve realised that we all have no choice but to do our best. No more, no less. Just our best.
How freeing is that? Just do our best. When we are children we are wild, we are free, we are curious, and we do everything to the best of our ability almost as a given. The responsibilities and experiences of being an adult squish this out of us. Pressures from external factors make us push harder than we should, we stop trying to do the things we think we fail at because of the fears and insecurities that have built up over the years, and we judge ourselves. My, how we judge ourselves. I’ve been busy judging myself for not writing an entire novel this week (Shakespeare wrote King Lear in his plague lockdown, what’s wrong with me?!), not managing to record an album of new and magnificent music, and not doing a single yoga session when I had planned to get my mat out everyday. Then I realised how rubbish that all is. I’ve been doing my best.
I had felt that it would be criminal to waste this forced opportunity; the gift of all this time to be creative and productive. I had set myself goals and rules instead of letting myself be free. Cheesy as it might sound, everyday you have with yourself is a gift. You have the freedom to create and be productive, of course. You also have the freedom to sit, relax, and chat to your mum on the phone whilst eating biscuits, if that’s what you feel like doing. You have none of the rules your normal life enforces. You are free. You can just be. It’s not a waste of time, it’s anything but.
This got me thinking about what other freedoms we might have. I’ve started thinking about the social freedom this situation gives us. It sucks that we can’t be in the same room as the people we love but, for a short time, a lot of people have the chance to spend time with themselves. Get to know the real you. Instead of going outside for happiness and reassurance we can look inwards; inside our original, wild and super-interesting selves. We can reconnect with our inner-child that never grew up, never got told they weren’t good enough, never got embarrassed that other children weren’t like them, never learned to change themselves to make sure others approved, never adapted to the outside world and, instead, stayed true to who they really are. I’d like to meet that child. What does that child want to do with their time? How do they want to express themselves? What is that child’s weird-ass thoughts? What would we be like if there was no-one (including ourself) to judge us. Kind of free, huh?
We have an opportunity to do things we would never normally do, think things we would never normally allow ourselves to think. Be childlike. Why not? I’ve noticed that, here in Spain, more of my neighbours play (or must have been meaning to get round to learning) musical instruments than I ever knew, I’ve had chats about death with friends who never normally allow themselves to be curious about such abstract and scary thoughts, my partner is suddenly interested in cooking and cleaning (don’t know if I should be worried or happy about that one!), I’ve discovered my brother is a closet apocalypse prepper, and I’ve realised I really like biscuits.
As interesting as this all is, I’ve also had time, and will have more time, to get in touch with things I didn’t know about myself. I feel like I live my life trying to be true to myself but I don’t know if I always do my best. Not really. I will be doing that for these coming weeks. And I hope it’s something a lot of people discover for themselves. I hope it’s something that keeps being part of us when all this horribleness is over. That really would be positive.