Like the proverbial elephant in the room the pandemic and it’s effects on physical, mental and spiritual health cannot be ignored. I thought writing a blog in these times one topic I would safely ignore is the virus. There is so much in the news and most conversation is permeated by it that people don’t need to hear more. However this elephant at times suffocates and takes up too much of my mental space. It needs addressing in some way so here goes.
Late last year I wrote to friends some of my ‘lockdown musings’. With a few variations it largely applies today…
Quiet evenings; unhurried; fogginess of mind (brain fog); stress despite little activity; furtive shopping; playing guitar; waiting on God; preciousness of relationships; impatience; news overload; irrational fear; auto distancing from people; cleanliness; blurring of the particular and the routine; Zoom and video meetings; online church; discouragement; crosswords; newspapers; clear, blue plane-free skies; sweet birdsong; phone calls; cancelled trips; cancelled races; freedom of trail / mountain running; walks alone, together with Elisabeth and with friends; envying people with gardens; good books, podcasts and music; family fears; solitary but not alone; frustration; weariness; disquiet; sleep; noise of social media; a different future; peace; mortality; resurrection; Ignatian retreat and use of imagination; annoyed with myself; anger at rule breakers; gratitude; face masks; picnics in friend’s gardens; rare meetings with relatives; indecisive; becoming ‘buddy’ to two overseas students; short stays at friends’ cottages between lockdowns; amazing 42+ year Zoom reunion with former colleagues; guilt at things not done.
Such a bundle of experiences and contrasting feelings! I have much to be thankful for. For some the pandemic has brought much misery, sorrow and grief. With your unique circumstances you will have your own list.
It would be nice to say that these days I wake up, jump out of bed and ‘seize the day’. However there are times when I lie awake and think wearily of doing exactly the same thing as yesterday. Slight variations, maybe a different walk route from day before! Or a short car trip for some errand or different household chores. More dangerously I might imagine starting on a minor DIY project. Rarely enjoyed and usually filled with frustration. Going through this mental exercise hundreds of times the past year there is little that is different or new that motivates me in doing these things again. Except discipline.
Discipline will get me out of bed. However another less healthy stimulus to activity is a misplaced sense of guilt if not busy. I initially thought that lockdown offered an attractive possibility. More time to slow down and just ‘be’. However the paradox is I often trade this opportunity by filling my life at the altar of ‘poor quality’ activity.
Many of us here in the UK are eagerly observing the beginnings of spring, the season of hope. It seems to bolster the desire for long awaited freedoms from lockdown. Tentatively daring to imagine a post pandemic world where that elephant takes much less space and we can breath easier.
A long time ago king David wrote probably the best loved and most well known of the Psalms. His voice rings true today as an antidote (vaccine?) to my frenetic nature. Best read slowly.