Today marks the 8th Friday of Lockdown. Exactly 8 weeks ago, South Africans were told to stay home. 56 days ago. I wish I didn’t have to mention the word lockdown. It’s a little tired term. I’m kind of over this term with its connotations of curtailment of freedom and all. For an unknown quantum still to come.
And yet, there does seem to be slow awakening of sorts. Everywhere you go, there are signs of more food deliveries from local restaurants and the roads are starting to look a little fuller. People on the streets are friendlier I find, and the panic in the shops to get groceries has long since subsided. We’re getting into a groove. Humans are more adaptable than they think. Masks are becoming a fashion item! Apart from the obvious horrors that people who would not be reading this blog are having to endure, we are managing a little better.
The extraordinary mild May we’re having also helps. I don’t recall having such beautiful weather and when you wake up each morning to a clear sky and watch the glorious pattern of clouds and the path of the sun as it rises and sleeps, it feels better. Just watching the sun rise each day is a treat. I’m alive and this planet is a truly wondrous thing.
Of course, there are scary details of what it’s all going to look like when this has eased. Johnny Steinberg’s article in Business Day and repeated on FB struck a worrying chord.
‘But perhaps the most important weapon against the onset of a dark politics is honesty. SA cannot pretend to be the country Mandela promised it would become.
It needs to be redescribed more modestly, as painful as that may be. South Africans ought to be told that something awful has happened, and that life may well not get better for a time. A cautious and conservative bunch, they may take comfort in the candour.’
So what do we do to maintain our sanity? There was a sweet little graphic I wanted to share now but of course I cannot find it. Something about sleep well, hydrate, fresh air, self-care, limit news.
Loving helps. In all forms. And giving. Keep on with both.
Something I find useful is to look how far we’ve come. Or at least I’ve come. I’m more of a reflective person, interested in how history has served us and what we can learn from what has happened. Future predictions and fantasy fiction are never in my contemplation. I love to look back on the past.
One thing I’ve noticed is how my routines have changed since we’ve been allowed out to exercise in the mornings, this 6am to 9am thing. The last three weeks. I’m sure yours have too? The problem for me is that the early mornings are when I think the clearest and work best so it’s a bit of toss up for me when I feel the taunting rays of the sun. Though I have also noticed that on the days I do go out first thing for fresh air invariably have a happier feeling about them.
Yesterday my youngest and I ventured out onto the road on our bikes for the first time. No one else in our fam seems to have been clamouring to use these two things that hang upside down from the garage ceiling like bats. Clearly not cycling fanatics in this family despite the boys having done the Argus just a few weeks ago. With not a day outside on a saddle and just a few gym sessions before I tell you! (Impressive my men!) Like hamsters on a wheel I always think, watching people sitting stationary on a bike in a gym. Ludicrous if you ask me. But can you believe it? The way we all hung out on the side of the road, without wearing a mask hugging and kissing and slapping hands with cyclists as they rode past? Inconceivable.
Despite believing that anytime soon I’m going to take up pedalling more often and feel a distinct sense of FOMO when I see posts of wild rides on mountain bikes , I now realise that just a short spurt for me is enough. The thought of cycling around the peninsula all in one day does not appeal. Unless of course there is no time limit and I can stop for as long as I want to. Go all you Argus kings and queens! I salute you!
In eight weeks, this is what I noticed.
I love the slow pace of the world.
I love watching for the sun to appear and noticing when it leaves for the night.
I haven’t missed a single day sitting at a hundred robots and noticing that mostly, there’s only one person in the driver’s seat in the car next to me. Isn’t that bizarre? All the cars on the road with one passenger. Unless of course it’s a school run but even then.
I don’t like to do everything online. The frenzy of Zoom for meeting and writing chats and family conferences? I’ve had enough. Maybe to do with WIFI but I get frustrated watching the people in their little boxes on screen all waiting for their turn to talk. I love a free-flowing conversation.
I miss a gaggle of girlfriends and the energy this creates. Not too much but a little.
I wouldn’t mind having a quiet coffee by myself in a coffee shop with my laptop for company.
I realise that I am at my most content surrounded by my family and a hoard of books.
I will never satisfy my frustration of not getting to all the books I want to read. I am itching for a little time on my own, in my own space, without being asked what’s for supper.
I’m missing my evening swim when the sun sets but feel that I pushed this activity until it’s furthest point. The last one was on Mother’s Day just a few days ago.
It’s okay to celebrate even big events with a little fuss and some extra nice food. In the last eight weeks, we’ve celebrated my son’s graduation, the securing of a job when he’s done, a daughter’s 21st, Mother’s Day and then some ….
I’ve observed more honestly how the disparity of what some have compared to others is possibly the biggest source of sadness for me. In my perfect world, all human beings should have enough.
I notice how for some, giving comes naturally and for others, it’s never enough. When someone complains about the fact that it’s still dark at 6am and why the hell is Cyril not waking up to smell the coffee about that I get mad. For two reasons: one, there are surely more important priorities for him right now, and two, I hate that expression. It’s so bloody overused.
On that note, I realise that coffee provides a great comfort for me. And that our Christmas present some years ago of a coffee machine was probably one of our best. That and the sound of the kettle starting to boil for some tea.
I don’t need ironed clothes but I miss my darling Milly saying to me when I sometimes leave the house for an important event and she’s finished inspecting me: ‘Niks, that shirt is crease. Can I iron for you?’ And I laugh at her and say, No, Mil, it’s fine, no one will notice. Ja, I know it’s your favourite she will tell me.
I don’t need new clothes. Other than some pajamas and some slippers.
I wouldn’t mind having my own work space back. And for my darling husband to spend a few hours at an office. Am I allowed to say that? I love him and his loud voice. But it can get a little loud at times.
I am nearly at the end of my first Netflix series. Ozark tonight. Last two sessions. Isn’t Ben just spot on with what the real truth is. Weird world.
The best two parties we have had have been in our cramped wine cellar. It’s a dingy little spot under the house. It came with the house- now 23 years ago- probably used to store wood or something but now it stores our wine. And we first decided that we would have supper there on our own- just hubby and I for a change just to shake things up a little and to get away from the family dinner table and then it became a party. The two youngest gatecrashed after supper and we danced around there ‘til midnight (stepping out for some fresh air and a beautiful moon sighting) to music of the eighties and then last weekend, all six of us were there. What fun. Not a beer in sight for my young bull since before lockdown but he hasn’t seemed to mind. Frankly I would love a gin. Anyone? Planning another Saturday night at our Club. Woohoo!
Time to go, getting late in the day.
Last thing I want to say. When you feel stressed out and tired and done all the other stuff you need to do, try to remember to just breathe and just sit. (Note to self: Do this. Yes you. I’m talking to you.)
Because we must know that these are probably some halcyon days. And I don’t need to tell you why.
Look at the beautiful origin of this word: a lesson in Latin and etymology. Told you I love things of the past.
From halcyon, from Latin Alcyone, from Ancient Greek Ἀλκυόνη (Alkuónē), daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers). When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs. These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur.
Be safe y’all. Be safe and be kind and let’s pray for a better world, okay? And let’s hold onto each other when the storms occur.
Written with love in my heart.
Til next time,