So I know this period is tough, it’s hard, it’s unprecedented and all the rest of it. But, at the same time, lockdown is a fantastic opportunity to take stock, to reset, to think through your choices and to live life now.
That’s perhaps Lesson 1.
1.Don’t take anything for granted.
Before now I expected the supermarkets to stock what I wanted, when I wanted. I could pop along and pick up a few bits and moments later I’d be ready to carry on with my life. Under lockdown, not so. Now, a trip to the supermarket needs to be planned with military precision. Surgical gloves need to be at the ready, anti-bacterial wipes need to be stuffed into pockets, cards need to be easily accessible and waiting times need to be allowed for.
There is no quick trip to the shops anymore. Everything takes longer. And the shops don’t sell what you think they should sell and so you have to be flexible. Substitutes are the name of the game and acceptance that they’re good enough has to be embraced – at least for the sake of sanity.
Before now I did not know you could make plain flour into self-raising flour just by adding baking powder and bicarb of soda. I also didn’t know how to use most of the random ingredients I’ve acquired in my cupboards, but necessity is the mother of invention.
Which leads me onto Lesson 2:
2. Be grateful for what you’ve got.
I don’t have a garden. I live in a flat in central London. Space is tight and things can get cramped. When life’s normal and you’re off out-and-about you don’t really notice what you haven’t got (like a garden or space to swing a zoom headset), but suddenly when you’re stuck indoors you notice the walls just inches from your nose.
But right outside my window I have a car park. Granted it’s not all mine, it’s communal, but still – it’s space and it’s outside and for the last few weeks it’s been everything from a car park bar area to a BBQ station to an art club.
Not only that, I also have three parks all within a ten-minute walk. And I have really nice neighbours. Neighbours who I can chat with (within the prescribed social distancing rules), share jokes with, can ask help from, to smile with, and to feel like – despite our own front doors – are here.
3. Embrace the now
So often in the past I’ve spent the present planning the future. My calendar was a series of events and stuff I was doing at some later date.
Now, I think about now. I maximise the present moment. I embrace the now. I don’t plan for tomorrow. I don’t think about next week. I think about now.
And surprisingly it’s very liberating. Concentrating on now means you can cram in more fun stuff. There is no waiting when you’re doing stuff now. And when you’re doing stuff you don’t have time to think and to plan. You don’t ponder over the future. You don’t think about what would be nice to be doing at such a date. You get on. You do stuff.
Now is where things happen and for me that’s been a revelation. Now I’ve got my painting stuff out, now I’ve made recipes I’d never dreamed of making, now I did my accounts a whole year in advance, now I made that phone call I’ve been meaning to make, now I sorted out that cupboard.
Now, now, now is how I’m living, and I’m loving it.
I think we’ve all learned a lot from lockdown and I truly want to believe I will still apply these learnings to life after lockdown.
Life really is what you make it, I still want my future plans, but if the present is all I’ve got I intend to make the most of it.