Well now, let’s be honest, we are neither hither or thither are we? One must forgive a person for feeling a tad discombobulated when even the powers that be appear to be suffering the same predicament.
For those untroubled by threatening life conditions, the future has long been something almost completely in our control: we could be homebodies or jetsetters, our children could attend places of education without fretting or uncomfortable distance from those they call friends, and we didn’t spend many a moment debating the premise of a “second wave” and considering whether a loo roll run might just be in order.
Life rolled along and we rolled along with it, certain that we had the ability to sway it, or bend it according to whimsy or will, as and when we felt it necessary. And then the pandemic arrived and what had been certain gave way to what is now considered our “new normal” (despite it resembling nothing like what went before, or being desirable in any shape or form) and we had to try to adjust our thinking collectively, so we tried and most of us failed because I do believe we fell into a period of exasperated mourning for what was, coupled moodily with quiet outrage for what no longer can be.
For some of us, the very beginning of isolation – the quiet days, pickled in a sense of “we are all in this together“, the creative, collective response to our predicament, some of the amazing journalism that ran amok encouraging us to bake, and dance and draw and LIVE within the confines of our own four walls – all of it, allowed to us to believe that what the pandemic had actually delivered was a sort of utopia we might always be able to keep within our grasp, but even that turned out to not be ours for the keeping, as businesses re-opened, as they must, and the air became polluted with car fumes again (for what choice is there?). So we found ourselves not only able to not have our old normal, but nor to be able to keep what seemed, for a while, to be a kind of beautiful normal that so many of us treasured while it lasted.
And so here we are. All of a muddle. Fatter than we were and living it seems, in the midst of an eternal weekend of the kind we most often endure in the depths of February, when we feel at once part of the world, but so utterly cut off from it, we may as well be burrowed like squirrels in nests starting to show the wear and tear of relentless use. At once ludicrously cautious about life beyond our door and in the very next moment cursing the heat of face masks and silently raging at those who abscond from the responsibility of hand gelling before they enter shops that are no longer a pleasure to visit, but instead something we must dash through, if only to breathe fresh air again.
So what to do? For sure we cannot live like this for always, or we will melt into a wobbly puddle of
This is I suppose a rally cry then, not for the acceptance of the kind of normal, no-one really wants, but instead for us Brocanteeers to define for ourselves a new tomorrow. To take the joys we discovered in the early days of isolation and to stitch them, like so many pearls on to the tapestry of the lives we now have. To make the most of what is, by re-inventing how we want to live within its light, and to set aside resentment and worry at every turn in favour of caution and hope.
All of it a gift. And not all of it destined to be lost, if we embrace the greatest gift this pandemic has to offer: clarity for our future.
So in the last days of this long summer I want to say now is the time to sit with a pen and paper and work out what has been precious and to let your heart fathom a way to keep that spirit alive. I want all of us to understand that the days of holiday shaped indulgence have to be over, because if life was one long holiday so very much would be lost to us that only the reclaiming of everyday routine and ritual can provide. And I want us to understand that we cannot have all of what went before carried through into our new tomorrow and that can only be a good thing, because our relief at the joys of isolation, is surely indicative of a life that had become too complex, too noisy, too demanding…
It is time then to choose. To choose who we want to be and how we want to live at home. It is time to tuck grief into our top pockets and to decide that life is something we cannot afford to squander, even if we have to wear a mask in which to live it.
It’s time to embrace gentle discipline, make our own well-being our priority and to believe that we still have authority over own lives, and we will serve them better if we now choose to make them as lovely as can be.