Lessons of lockdown
It is a truism to note that trauma is often the precursor to reinvention. Easing brings opportunities as well as anxieties; before it is too late, we have a chance to deploy some of the lessons of lockdown:
On my ‘exercise’ walks in the sunny days of lockdown, I often saw people turning their front gardens into cocktail bars, libraries and studies, art galleries and play parks; they chatted, distanced, with their neighbours. Much of what I overheard concerned the politics of pandemic.
In the working class suburbs of Plymouth, it was not unusual to come upon bingo sessions and aerobics classes amplified across back gardens (in the absence of traffic noise).
With so many people laid off from work, one felt a collective sigh of relief and self-questioning: had we really needed to live at that pace to ‘keep things going’? With only half the workforce in place why was no one starving? How much of the economy was real and how much of it a means to distract and control? We can deploy our inner sense of unreality as a critical tool for re-understanding priorities in our exterior world.
In the days of lockdown, there was plenty of evidence of people rediscovering walking. Households escaping the house. There was a certain timidity; people concerned not to stray too far from their homes, or too close to others. For those who discovered or rediscovered something in putting their bodies out into the world, easing is an opportunity not to withdraw back to the home, but push beyond the limits of lockdown walking.
To take more risks; to stray closer to others, human and unhuman. To know that it’s fine to feel unnerved when massive bullocks raise themselves up and, curious at our presence in their field, take a few paces in our direction. That it’s important to feel relief when we reach the stile. That being there and being with other things is about the only way to reverence their presence and begin to reconstruct our own.