COMPLETING AND CONTEMPLATING
written by Lottie Lewis
The past year has been one hell of a ride. For many of us, at one point or another, life came to a standstill. Tools were downed, relationships were put on hold, workplaces, shops, sports centres, places of worship, all shut for the foreseeable future. Lockdown forced us to put life plans on the back burner and purely focus on the here and now, which can feel pretty daunting for those of us that like to live at a million miles an hour. All of a sudden diaries became free, the morning commute was cancelled and responsibilities subsided. We were drowning in free time, and needed to learn how to swim all over again.
SO WE SWAM.
We looked out for each other.
Video calls with friends in far off places that we previously hadn’t found the time to contact. Letters and cards to loved ones who only lived in the next town over. Second-hand books popped in the post to siblings stuck on the other side of the world. No little text or a quick phone call went unnoticed, and by simply checking in on each other, we helped each other. And oh, the plans that were made! When this was all over, the party that we’d throw, the feasts we’d cook, the trips we’d go on, the waves we’d surf, the cities we’d skate, the mountains we’d climb. We promised never to take our freedom for granted again, and eagerly awaited the opening of borders.
In European cities where the lockdown was strictest, music flowed. Neighbours dug out guitars and saxophones, dragged pianos onto balconies, and sang. Sweet sounds filled the air, bridging the spaces between us, giving people a reason to open the curtains, loosen their lips, smile and sing. Care packages found their way onto the doorsteps of those less fortunate; helping with the food shop, bits and bobs from the pharmacy, bunches of fresh flowers to brighten otherwise mundane days. When our work, social lives and daily chores were stripped way, things of more importance surfaced.
And we looked after ourselves.
After the initial panic, came the calm. New routines were forged; yoga in the spring sunshine, mindful cups of tea before breakfast, savouring the sweetness of extra stolen moments in bed. The daily dog walk became more than just a routine but a relished escapes from our homes; how had we never really heard the birdsong, noticed the early summer buds, fallen into rhythm with the movement of the sun across the sky?
Of course, some days were difficult. The frustration and loneliness was sometimes too hard to handle. No amount of stretching or walking or tending to our gardens could cure the internal itch that our lives were on hold. For those not even able to go in the sea, life suddenly felt very suffocating. But through meditation, mindfulness and a good rant to a best friend on the phone, the hard days passed, and the gentle calm returned.
Not only did we find peace, but we found passion. Lockdown and quarantine served up free time in abundance, and many people didn’t waste it. New businesses blossomed, creative passions were finally fed, artists and wordsmiths and designers and makers finally had the one precious thing that is so incredibly scarce but absolutely vital; time. And the support was unparalleled! After the panic buying, came the supporting local. With many people’s incomes being cut, we decided to spend our money with more meaning, choosing quality over quantity, choosing independent makers over big corporates, choosing to line the pockets of people we loved and admired, rather than those we couldn’t relate too. Even now, at the end of this strangest year yet, those little businesses and brands that were born from international lockdown are still thriving. Creatives were given a big break, and we didn’t let it pass us by.
And we looked after the planet.
Gardens were dug. Flowers were tended. The bees and butterflies returned. No matter if we were turning over the earth in the garden, sculpting raised beds on tiny concrete courtyards, growing tomatoes out of bags of compost, planting herbs on sunny windowsills or simply letting the wild flowers grow instead of cutting them back, we let nature back in. We finally found the time to sow seeds, carefully tending for our saplings, sheltering them from blazing afternoon sunshine, moving their pots from window to window with the sunrise and sunset, simply remembering to water our plant babies now that nothing else was stealing our attention.
Not only did we nurture new life, but we let Mother Nature have time to recover and rejuvenate. Car keys stayed on hooks by the front door, unused for months. Fuel stations lay empty and deserted. With no massive demand for production, factories temporarily closed their doors. Emissions dropped, smog cleared, animals ventured into parts of the world that they’d previously been too scared to explore. Sunrises and stars were seen from cities that hadn’t seen the sky for years. We took a step back and slowed down, and the earth went into overdrive, reminding us of her true capabilities when left to her own devices.
Whether you feel like you smashed this year, or 2020 has smashed you, feel proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved. If you are reading this, you survived what was the oddest, most unexpected, alienating year, and came out the other side. Be it kicking and screaming or peacefully at ease, there was no right or wrong way to handle the turbulent times of 2020, but the lessons we learnt along the way are invaluable. Many of us gained a new perspective, an internal understanding and a new found appreciation for our freedom, and we’ll never take the beach for granted again!
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