Diary of a Lockdown, day 1: signs of Spring and slowing down

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Today’s sign of Spring in my south London garden

We’ve been cutting back on contact with others for a week or so here – hand-washing to the point of rawness, cancelling yoga classes and a birthday bash –  but today was the first full lockdown, as decreed last night by Boris in his address to the nation. So it seems a good time to begin a diary of these strange and interesting times.

The last week or so have been pretty frantic for me as I searched for a way to have any income without teaching my usual face-to-face yoga classes and retreats. But with morning online classes now up and running on Zoom, today has actually been quite calm.

I started the day by taking a photograph of a sign of Spring in the garden – I think I’ll do this every day. It was one of several things that in ‘normal life’ seem like a good idea, but which I rarely get around to.

There are others: today I baked some bread, played table tennis with my youngest son, took the dog on a particularly long walk, and even sawed up some old branches from the garden to make firewood. There’s nothing stopping me from doing these things usually, but enforced social isolation seemed to encourage such activities.

Two friends that I rarely see or speak to – we tend to stay in touch on social media instead – phoned for a catch-up. It was lovely. I had a long neighbourly chat over the wall. Even the teenagers in our house seemed more willing than usual to have proper conversations.

So amid all the anxiety over illness, livelihoods and toilet rolls, I also notice emerging a chink of hope that through these strange times we might rediscover some simple pleasures. Instead of flicking between screens, perhaps we will find enjoyment in practical domestic tasks; instead of reaching for a ready meal, we might discover a deeper pleasure from planning what we eat with thought and care; where we have contact with nature, we might notice it with greater attention and treasure its complexity.

Is it possible that some constraints on the way we live our lives will force us to be more creative, more appreciative, more patient, and even happier?  Watch this space!

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