As the city of Leicester goes into lockdown again, here is an article I wrote for a magazine, which should serve as a reminder that we’re not out of it yet and that we could all be back in lockdown if we don’t take good care.
As the UK is emerging from what feels for many the longest lockdown in history (and none of us have really experienced anything like it before), a lot of us are keen to get back to the old normal and forget about what had become the “new normal”. Some of us may feel less excited about the prospect of having to get out of our bubble and resume our daily tasks, commute to work and go back to an office. Others still carry fears from an invisible force that threatened not only the lives of many loved ones who are vulnerable or elderly but also jeopardised jobs, livelihoods and future plans made. Many expressed that isolation had evoked heightened feelings of anxiety and anxiousness in them, staring into a dark hole of mortality, uncertainty, feeling lonely and cut off from close friends and family, social lives in tatters, yearning for human closeness, hugs and intimacy. Cancelled weddings, parties, festivals, proms, holidays – most of us can tell a story of what we had to postpone or give up during these strange times.
Looking back, the time in lockdown was, certainly for me, a roller coaster of feelings, or, what others often referred to as a “corona coaster”. Part of me embraced imposed quarantine and its restrictions on movement, spending more time at home with my children instead of rushing out the house and leaving them behind. Family time certainly has been the biggest upside of lockdown with joint meals, picnics, lazy mornings and sunny hours in the garden. I will cherish those days forever, alongside long and meaningful conversations over the phone, long emails, Zoom calls with family and friends and even the odd letter and card sent, going back to communicating in depth, showing appreciation and love and acknowledging that we as humans are deeply sociable and need connection with one another as much as food, water and, it seems, toilet paper.
However, there were also moments when I struggled – a lot – but was reassured by conversations with friends that I was certainly not the only one feeling like this. Being at home a lot is lovely for a homebody like me but the added pressures of working remotely whilst home-schooling, keeping the kids sane and stopping the house from looking like it has been burgled have taken their toll at times, combined with the fact that no one could just quickly pop out or have some me-time. I also failed to find the extra time many people were talking about, searching desperately and in vain for a moment to myself, for time to read a book or to do some renovation on the house. It was as impossible as locating some flour and eggs in shops.
All joking aside – I know I was lucky and privileged to have experienced lockdown in an environment that was safe, we were healthy, fed and watered, and were never alone or lonely. Not once did we have to go without luxuries – we even had an Easter Egg hunt and a big cake for my daughter’s birthday. My appreciation for life as we know it has never been greater, but it has also turned into a wish for change. Covid-19 should have been a wakeup call for all of us, making us realise how fragile life can be, that we are not invincible and neither is the planet we live on. I have hopes for a fresh start, not just in terms of emerging full of drive and energy to commence normality as it was BC (before covid). Life AC (after covid) could be an opportunity to change for the better – our lives, our relationships, our planet. What are you going to do?