Monday, 11 May 2020

Reflections on Lockdown



Over the course of the last fifty nine days, I’ve been posting a regular “Diary of a Pandemic” and today I looked back to see how much my outlook has changed.
It began “self -isolation has its challenges−and its good points.
Not going out seems fine for a day or two, but the prospect for any length of time is a bit daunting. If I think about it too much I can almost feel the walls closing in. So I don’t think about it, or at least focus on having more time to do the garden, which is crying out for attention. Then there is the possibility of going for clandestine walks around the Oval when no one else is about. The image of skulking along the road, looking over my shoulder for any human being I might encounter and hurrying away if I do is already making me smile. Should I keep my hat pulled low over my eyes? Wear dark glasses and a scarf over my mouth? Dare I go out in daylight hours, or should I choose my time when the moon is up and the vixen is calling? 
Yes we do live in the middle of the city, but somewhere around here there is a foxes’ den and in the spring, around about mid-night we often see a vixen sitting in the middle of the road making plain that she’s on Vulpine Tinder.
Lack of socialising won’t be fun, but there is social media, phones, Skype etc and I might end up talking to family and friends far more often than I do.
The up-side of staying at home is that there will be loads and loads of time to write. In four months!! I reckon I could write a couple of book…well maybe, or maybe not. I don’t work that fast, so I might have to limit myself to an edit of the latest WIP and a few short stories. I could also review some of my children’s books, like the Dragonfire Trilogy, that could do with a re-vamp.
I could try out the “How to Draw” book I bought about two years ago; sort out my wardrobe and my in-tray. I could delete the hundreds of e-mails I’m keeping for no good reason, tidy my office and deep clean the house−park that one, life’s too short.
What I will be doing is to read more books and make an effort to review them; catch up on all the films we’ve got waiting to be seen, or programmes I’ve recorded or want to watch on i-player. Then there is music to listen to and before I forget it’s time to get those seeds sown.
It will be interesting to see how much I’ll actually get done and whether my life will change in any significant way having gone through this process.”
Re-reading this, so much seems almost fanatically upbeat. Much of what I thought I’d achieve, the writing, the reading, even the reviewing didn’t happen. The first few weeks everything seemed to take far more time than usual, then gradually routines set in and as I adjusted to the status quo, I became much more productive. There were even moments of enjoyment.
Then everything changed. Mum died, possibly of the virus, no one can be sure, but other residents in her block of assisted living apartments had tested positive.
For a while I couldn’t post anything at all, and though writing would have helped I felt unable to share. Finally, I decided that I had to make an effort to get back to what had become our normality.
So the blogs began again, and on day fifty-nine, I reflect,
“A grey day. Literally and figuratively. Maybe because of yesterday’s elusive taste of summer today’s clouded skies and cold winds have brought a complete change of mood. Or maybe it’s the way of things in these times Corvid 19. When so many of us find ourselves on the rollercoaster of emotions that swing from being more or less happy, to more or less miserable. I won’t use the word depressed. Depression is serious. Unhappiness is not good, but it is manageable. As is grief. Neither condition requires medication, though both can drag you down to a state of complete lethargy, in which it takes a huge effort to get going.
I won’t talk about grief. Not today. Not because I don’t want to acknowledge it, but because it is complex and needs more thinking about that would be good for me today.
Being miserable, on the other hand, is linked to stress and the anxiety that lurks at the thought of what our benighted government is going to announce this evening. What helps most of all is being with people, which of course is impossible, but a phone call at lunch time from a close friend helped. Having to concentrate on a task is useful too. Planning Maddy’s poetry lesson for tomorrow lifted some of the cloud, as did a photograph of wisteria posted on FB by another dear friend. Like me his wisteria had never flowered until this year. Now we both have a few blossoms.”
I won’t say this is a symbol of better times to come, but here’s hoping.

Keep safe.


2 comments:

Griselda Heppel said...

What an awful shock, Misha, I'm so sorry to hear this. To lose your mum so suddenly is bad enough, but for it to happen during lockdown, and probably from the virus, at a time when presumably you couldn't be with her is much much worse. And then not to be allowed to have friends and family around you to talk to and share your grief with just adds to the pain. Now the lockdown shows signs of easing I hope things get better for you.

Katherine Roberts said...

Really sorry to hear about your mum, Misha. I hope you are managing to get some support. My mother has recently tested positive for covid and is in a nursing home after suffering a stroke last year. I haven't seen her since beginning of March (they closed their doors early, but despite being super-cautious have recently had seven deaths so I am resigning myself to never seeing mum again and having nobody to give me a hug if she does die - so I know how hard it is).