I gave out some (no doubt unheeded, dubious) advice to a teenager at the weekend about living in the moment – about not dwelling on the past and not assuming tomorrow is going to happen. Whilst a teenager’s life is vastly different to mine, I feel the advice was relevant and a little nugget of life insight, which undoubtedly was not what they wanted to hear, yet will read all about on Flikflok, or whatever the tripe is called, and then feed it back to me as if it’s a complete revelation that they, nor I have ever heard before.
Living in the moment, so I’ve been reading, is a massive factor in maintaining one’s mental health. It’s something I admittedly don’t do enough of, though probably more than most. Definitely more than the average teenager. I find when I’m outdoors I tend to be more present, stopping to admire a spider’s web, listening out for birdsong, and watching Housemartins sweep and swoop. I’ve probably said it before but lockdown has not brought me down at all, directly. I say directly as factors associated with it have succeeded somewhat, but the whole working from home jazz, and social distancing has, if anything, improved my well being. I’ve always strongly disliked the office environment as regular readers will confirm, so dealing with colleagues on a screen twice a day is bliss. It does pose some serious questions to ask myself though, like why do I need to spend four hours a day commuting in order to fulfill exactly the same job role and feel much better about it too? The time I used to spend commuting is now taken up walking or running in the morning, or out in the garden, watching it grow and feeding the birds. Zero negativity. Zero carbon emissions.
It’s just as well I am enjoying this slower pace of life, having more time to relax and do what I enjoy, reading and attempting to meditate, as I am not sure what I am less enthusiastic about: the old normal or the new normal. I don’t want to sound like I am taking the urine, as I know plenty of people are struggling for many different reasons, and I know I am very lucky compared to some. I just feel that the current situation is not so far from my normal, insular, way of life anyway, and it’s actually allowed me to flourish a little. It was interesting when this all started, weeks ago and comparisons were made to World War Two, as politicians tried to convince them and us that we could all club together and pull through like previous generations did, evoking the war effort. I didn’t see any of that at all. Politicians still had their eyes on money and bending the rules, and the majority of the population went out and selfishly looted bog roll and other essentials that they didn’t actually need. It would have been interesting to see the population cope for just a week under strict rationing. Try six years of it. I can now understand why a large proportion of society were actually caught up in the bittersweet celebrations of VE Day in 1945, as it effectively signalled the end of near socialist, co-operative living, and in the case of the women who kept Britain eating, fighting and moving, potentially the end of their independence and freedom. The men were coming back, and normal roles would be resumed. Obviously, we know it wasn’t the case for long and social reform happened. What will the COVID-19 equivalent be? Let’s wait and see. Probably the doubling of McDonald’s drive through lanes, though I sincerely hope not.
So, as I try to learn more about nature the more I realise how much I, and we, need it. It is flourishing without us. We would not flourish without it. I hope to emerge from this experience with countless more positives than negatives.