So, we’ve made it to week 5 and we are heading for at least another 3, if not more. When I was first told to work from home the novelty shone through….an extra wee bit of time at home in the morning to hang a washing out, managing my own time and getting more done in half the time because there was no blethering at the kettle and general office banter. But the novelty soon wore off and the lure of the biscuit tin, the hankering for some adult conversation and contact, and the lessening of a desire to wear anything other than “comfy clothes” soon took over. A daily reminder to comb my hair set in. We instigated daily team catch ups, weekly directorate catch ups and the odd general “virtual coffee and cake” and very quickly this started to become normalised. The need to check in with colleagues living on their own to make sure they weren’t sitting in their pants talking to the wall wasn’t unusual all of a sudden. So, when holiday came around, even though we could hand it back and keep on working, I decided not to and to take a break from my laptop and the perpetual message of economy collapse and businesses imploding.
BAL (Before Annual Leave) I felt terrible. Anxiety levels rising about the world collapsing. Worry, worry, worry about everything – family, people losing their livelihoods, disease, disease, disease. It was seriously escalating…..but now I feel so much better. And yet so much worse. I feel glad to have a job I still get paid for. But I feel guilty about having a job I still get paid for. I am glad I now have two of my children with me and one of them within arm’s reach. I feel guilty for having two of my children with me and one of them within arm’s reach. I feel glad for feeling healthy and that no one I know has as yet had the virus. I feel guilty for feeling healthy and that no one I know has as yet had the virus. Emotional highs and lows. Every day there was something popping up to give my worry-genes something to get their teeth into.
One of my children got a job in food retailing to regain lost income. Great news. But I hate the stories of customers leaning over her, breathing in her air, daring to not social distance. I panicked at the one child and his partner stuck travelling in Australia and unable to afford the astronomical hike in airfares the greedy b+st#r*ing airlines were charging. But then they managed to get flights home and I worried about them being in close proximity to over 300 people for 11 hours. This simply led to a self-perpetuating cycle of panic and anxiety, wakeful nights interspersed with brief periods of relief.
Many of my fellow teachers have gone online, many through need as this is a major source of income. I wholly support them and have tried to help promote their classes for them and for my yogis to keep up a practice. But I am not one of the online brigade. Partly because I have an income and the guilt would kick in again. And partly because I just don’t like it. I am a hugger. I like to see people, have a bit of banter, a bit of pre- and post-practice chat. Have a laugh when I get my left and right mixed up, or give a crap explanation of an asana, and smile to myself when the first snore fills the room in Savasana. I feel like I have some kind of stage fright in front of the phone screen or laptop and nerves kick in in the assumption that I look and sound, well, ridiculous. I have little confidence that what I am saying is interesting, or makes sense, to anyone. My one foray into a live Ayurveda chat might be the only one for a while!
So, a bit of leave, from everything, came just at the right time. The wandering offspring made it home (big surprise, my heart literally stopped when he walked through the door). Retailing offspring is able to hold her own and would cheerfully tell a customer to bugger off if they were taking liberties. And third offspring and I are enjoying cooking and walking and generally spending quality time together. And my husband and I are finding new ways of working together to “get things done” for the first time in years. And I am reducing my news consumption from once an hour to once a day….if that.
Its so easy to overthink everything. We can personally control the spread of the virus by staying at home and adhering to the guidance but can’t create a cure or a vaccine. So, my personal way of coping with all of this is to switch off, and turn in. And lockdown has been a godsend. This last week has been like being on retreat. Getting up nice and early. Time to take time complete my Ayurvedic morning ritual, my little bit of self-care. Time to take time to have a leisurely asana, pranayama and meditation practice. Preparing a loving, healthy breakfast. Studying. Reading. And getting out in nature (thanks to the brilliant weather, by the way!). Re-visiting walks from my front door I haven’t done for ages. Cracking on with the garden until my fingers go into spasm. Taking time to cook and explore new recipes. Taking time to eat and enjoy the food in pleasant company. And having time to just get into my own headspace. And I am LOVING it. And even though I love leading yoga practices, and have done for 8 wonderful years, I have to admit I am also loving NOT leading them.
The world is going into meltdown around me, but I feel strangely calm. I go into town very early only one morning per week to forage for food. So, each item I buy is thought out and needed and this lack of contact with wider society, other than friends and family over social media, is surprisingly enjoyable. Yes, I miss hugging the wee ones. Yes, having a laugh with my colleagues would be nice. But going into week two of my leave I was relishing this opportunity to hit the pause button that this horrendous virus has enforced. None of us will come out of this the same as we went in. But its up to us to choose whether we come out as better people or not. And change is afoot, of that you can be sure with so many unknowns about the economy, the state of our education system, and our societal values and so on. But we have learned so much about ourselves over the last few weeks it would be a shame to let it all just sink back into the way it was – over-consuming, stress, just flying through life in a hurry.
Charaka, one of the founding fathers of Ayurveda, wrote over 3,000 years ago that the blame and cause of pandemics lies at the feet of man. Our misuse and abuse of our natural environment. Our selfish demand for stuff. Our bleeding of the Earth’s resources to make a quick buck. And our lack of compassion for our fellow man has, in his eyes lead to this day. The water of the Ganges is running clear for the first time in a long time. Deer are coming down from the hills into Paisley housing estates. And people are being kinder to each other than at any other point in my lifetime. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep this when this is all over?
Let’s come out of this better people.