The contrasts are intense at present, between many things. The elegant design of nature is playing out as it does, with a serenity that is captivating. I watch it through the window and on walks. Global events continue, some of them leaving a path of devastation. I see it in news updates and when catching up with others, through screens. It’s hard to sit with the chaos and peace together. I’ve been responding by working with the microcosm. We shan’t have these hours and months back, to live differently. This is part of our story, woven into the fabric of our experiences.
Everyone’s situation is different, though one area our houshold have most felt the impact, is home education (which we were doing prior to the pandemic). We have shifted recently with the same hours of study stretched across fewer subjects per day. Everything takes a little longer at present, so this allows more time for greater depth. Art, history, music and culture make thoughtful topics. Articles, documentaries, online resources, worksheets and textbooks provide a foundation for core subjects. Chores, fitness, games and puzzles support it all.
Of what little in life I can control, I feel better making the best of these minutes and weeks. Scientists said it would take 2 years to dramatically impact the virus. We are approaching halfway, by their estimate. There will be a transitional period too, that could last another year or so. These days are the void from which a new vision of normal will be collectively manifested. They matter as much. All the small things become part of this chapter too – letters and texts – each a thread of love. Donations to food banks. Planting things, come the Spring. Writing the next book and returning to gardening, as Winter wanes.
The mind has – at most – 5 hours of optimum concentration a day. To avoid chipping away at limited reserves needed for work and study, we have a meal plan, downstairs and upstairs cleaning days and set days for chats with wider family, making them easier to remember. In January, I played a game of micro-whittling – finding up to 15 items a week for donation. Removing a few floor-standing items has created more living space. 5 minutes of sorting paperwork regularly, has minimised it by 2/3. Marking work, a minor repair or editing a few pages, chips at larger tasks.
All of these tiny actions are incremental, though their impact collectively feels seismic. Our bandwidth has bottle-necked during the pandemic – where possible we’re finding ‘a third less is best’. And all the moments we’re happy, laughing and enjoying ourselves, we embrace. Because we can accept what is happening without making it a cliff note to every admission of joy. We cannot separate the two, life’s beauty and pleasure is bursting between the sorrow and uncertainty, pushing between slabs as shoots of green; reminders that Spring always comes.
Global action is inspiring, yet so is individual. The moment full with the most potential, the first action of each day… waking up. When crafting a new normal, wake up to all of it then do what works for you. Together, something different yet still beautiful will begin to form, through all of us.
All photos copyright © Louise Ann Knight