September 7, 2022

And the world went stop.

Coronavirus. Self Isolation. Quarantine. Panic buying. Loo roll shortages. Protein shortages. OAT MILK shortages. The world has gone crazy. London seems to have transformed into a semi-war world where solo people wander the streets, carefully managing their 2m radius from others, maybe smiling to acknowledge the awkwardness of the 2m radius but more likely just looking down to avoid any social interaction (we’re still British afterall). Three months ago, I’d just got home from South America, I was ready for 2020, to make 2020 my year, the year I finally got around to doing all the things I’d planned to do for however long and never got around to doing & then this happened. The world stopped. Life stopped. We were all forced to just .

I’m now effectively 3.5 weeks into isolation. I got (what I believe was) Coronavirus early doors. I woke up on a Saturday morning with a raging temperature, a body so sore that lying in bed felt like agony and basically an inability to move. It was bad, real bad. Almost as bad as when I had Swine flu at 20 and woke up so sweaty from the fever that my sheets were soaked through (pandemics seem to like me). After two weeks of being effectively bed bound, binging on Love is Blind & other mindless TV, I was ready to get back into life again, only to find that the world was slowly locking down. Stories of Italians being stuck in their homes, not allowed to leave. Same in Spain. Wait, & now France too? That could never happen in the UK though right, especially not in London. London never stops. How could they every shut it down. They just couldn’t. Surely.

They did. In the most British, let’s avoid this incredibly awkward situation, way possible: the pre-recorded message, felt weirdly like being ghosted after the courtship of the 5pm BBC updates. You could have at least told us live. Anyway, so here we all are. Locked away at home, allowed to leave the house alone once a day for exercise & maybe to walk to Sainsburys to stand in the Granger & Co style queue (+ 2m radius) to buy some, pas… oh no wait, loo r… nope, frui…hmmm, ok just a pack of M&Ms before returning back to the pod which has quickly become workplace, sleepplace, restaurant, bar, yoga studio, home. I’ve trained in yoga, read far too many books on personal development & am vaguely literate in (very very basic) psychology, this situation should be my opportunity to shine. The chance to help the world navigate the uncertainty, the unknown, the quiet, the ‘just be’ existence but the reality was that I just got really anxious. I’m going to be honest, the idea of not knowing how long I was going to be locked up for really stressed me out. What about seeing my family? What about my friends? How am I going to do all the things I planned to do if I’m locked up here? The anxiety lasted for a few days, which is unsurprising seeing as so much of the media we consume at the moment is built to feed it. Death toll. Isolation. Months. Recession. Bleurgh. Bleurgh. Bleurgh. What made it worse was seeing so many of my yogi pals seemingly managing to ‘trust the process’ & continue to believe ‘the universe was unfolding as planned’. WHERE ARE YOU YOGI BRAIN. WHY HAVE I WASTED YEARS OF MY LIFE READING ABOUT THIS STUFF IF YOU ABANDON ME NOW. It’s hard. This situation is hard and weird and uncertain. Nobody knows what they are doing, however much they pretend they do, we are all just here, swanning around trying to work out what to do now that life, bar work, has effectively s.t.o.p.p.e.d. We’re a generation of the cash rich, time poor. We are used to spending money on expensive exercise classes, eating out 4 x a week & swanning off all over the world at the drop of a hat. So it’s no surprise that we panic when all of it is taken away in the space of a week. The tables have turned & we’ve found ourselves time rich (& depending on how much cash you had in the stock market or how short-termist your employer is (bleurgh)), cash poor. So what to do now?

Thankfully, after a few days of brain fog, my yogi zen (ish) has returned. I went out for a walk this evening, it was meant to be a bike ride but I got about 400m from the flat before I realised I had a flat tyre (explained the squeaking), and as I walked through the deserted streets of London I had a bit of a moment. I’d left my headphones in the flat because of planning to be on a bike so for the first time in a long time I was out on a walk with no means of distraction but my own brain. It was magical. London was magical. The streets were empty, couples walked & talked hand in hand, a man sat on his own on the grass in Hyde Park playing the oboe, a lady walked along on the phone to a friend discussing the day by day evolution of her corona symptoms & how grateful she was to be finally free to walk in the park. People moved slowly. They stopped to watch the sunset over the Serpentine. To feed swans. To listen to the Oboeist. To just sit & breathe & be.

Yes, this situation is sad, I don’t want anyone to think I am not conscious of the fact that people may lose loved ones over this. People may lose jobs over this. There is a lot to collectively mourn. That said, for a lot of us, none of this will happen. I repeat, none of this will happen. Effectively, you’ve just been gifted with free evenings for the foreseeable future to do whatever you please. None of those, urgh I have to go to this thing I said I’d go to but don’t want to go to but I have to go to because I said I’d be there evenings. None of them. You have just been given exactly what you were probably asking for multiple times in the last year: you time. So do what you want. Read. Have baths. Learn something new. Make peanut butter cups (personal fave). Bake. Connect (virtually) with people. Connect properly with yourself. Plan trips. Use the time to re-evaluate where you’re at. What you want. What your priorities are. What version of yourself you want to be when we’re all finally released from captivity. Think of it like half time in a Netball (obvs) match..pause, have some sliced oranges, regroup, make a plan so that when the whistle blows for us to get up & go again, we can all do so consciously, having taken the time to figure out what it is that really matters to us all, I’m going to hazard a guess that standing in a queue for an hour for brunch isn’t it.

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