🇬🇧 Finding a New Pace

United Kingdom:

I am awoken by a vivacious, youthful presence lain down beside me. Usually, it is enough to waken me, but in the dozy hours of sometime-before-seven, it isn’t. Sensing this, I feel the weight shift out of my bed. It is soon back, but this time, it seems heavier… Suddenly, something sloppy, wet and slightly gooey is on my face! My eyelids retreat backward; it’s a canine! Daisy! She’s protesting at my selfish inclination of getting beauty sleep instead of cuddling her. As soon as my hands are stroking her back, she knows that I have surrendered to her requests. I am safe from the goo for now.
“Pancakes, Tory?” It’s Ella, my six-year-old sister. She asks innocently and even though I know that she had planned the vicious canine attack, I think that this demand is very reasonable. Pancakes are my specialty.

Lockdown has benefits unforeseen to most. My sister, mum and I hang out so much more: we have spa days, game nights and movie nights. According to Ella, I’m her favourite person. I take that very seriously; it has not happened before.

Instead of lazing about and being generally unproductive, I am kept very busy. The day isn’t scheduled but zoom calls, making meals, family time, exercises, schoolwork and just some time alone all pile up until I become swamped. Swamped in lockdown, how strange! Of course, I could have just ignored all of these commitments and let lethargy take over. I could have just laid down in bed all day. It could have been relaxing, but boredom was too big a risk. It would devour me if I let it, not a weight on my chest but a parasite inside, eating away opportunities and enjoyment until nothing is left but an unsatisfied complacency. Nothing is worse than that feeling, and so I tend to say yes to the activities my mum and sister offer me the chance to take part in, whether its rock painting, hide and seek or making pancakes.

Nothing is better than the feeling you get after a strenuous exercise, or when you finish an unpleasant task, or finally consume your own home-cooked meal.

Life is how you see it, if you see a rainbow coloured horse then that’s what it is. If you see a dreary, grey room then that’s it. You can view something as too scary, or exciting. Too difficult, or a challenge. Be revengeful, or forgiving. If you think everything is the same, then that’s how it will be. Too many people just accept things as they are. They say, “I’m an impatient person.” Then they acknowledge themselves as permanently impatient, they don’t try to change it, but I think that we should always be trying to change. We shouldn’t just be ourselves; we should make ourselves.

It’s 10 O’clock, I’m homeschooling Ella and she is not on her best behavior. She complains at every piece of work I give her and so far, my patience has not been rewarded. “Ella, if you’re going to cry, cry somewhere that’s not so distracting!” I demand, she leaves in a huff. The door slams and I sigh; I tried. She’s someone else’s problem now.

Mum is in her study trying to work on her report when Ella comes rushing in. Her little face is red, and all her features are drawn in towards her nose. It is not a pleasant face.
Later, I find out that Mum did not get any of her report done. Ella had interrupted and would not be neglected for the shortest of seconds. So instead of doing her work in the morning, Mum would be doing it in the afternoon when she had previously arranged to clean out the hamster cage, and so we all had to deal with that rancid stink a day more.

Lockdown. It sounds terrifying, the word opens a Pandora’s Box of pessimistic prejudices and thoughts of rationing, boredom, war and despair. When Boris Johnson announced that we would have to do it, we were in a frenzy; people panic-bought cans of food, toilet roll, hot tubs and exercise equipment. You and I would both be lying if we denied doing the same. Some say that lockdown reveals the altruistic of us and the less so.

It was a combination of peer pressure and mob mindset that pushed people to do as the extremists did. What if we do run out of food? What if I get sick and don’t have any antibiotics? Some argue that people panic-bought out of selfishness, but I disagree: people were scared and chose to take the safer option. They were unsure of what to do and taking care of their own families bypassed looking after the welfare of another, which they most likely didn’t even think of. Surely one more can of soup won’t hurt anyone. One more bottle of antibiotics? This doesn’t mean that they should have, it just offers a better explanation than self-importance.

A six-year-old girl called Lydia, whom I know, has severe asthma and when she got a cold, she had to suffer for much longer as she should have. The medicine had ran out from people taking so many prescriptions of it. One extra bottle of medicine does make a difference. It means that someone else gets that bottle, so they don’t buy a different one, shelves are restocked slower, less orders are placed, etc.

Healthy people ordering online shopping makes it more difficult for older or more vulnerable people to do this, who have a much higher risk of being hurt from the virus Covid-19. This virus is another reminder for us of the consequences of our actions, no matter how mundane. We could wash our hands clear of the virus unknowingly or put a loved one at risk by dismissing our ‘silly’ cough.

Six O’clock. A fog of fatigue loitered around me, after an eventful, hectic week it was time to rest. I padded slowly and deliberately over to my room and collapsed onto my bed, but I’d only just had dinner. Only one prospect seemed opportune. I was too tired for reading; it requires concentration. The fog had sucked out all abilities of focus I had, only sleep would absorb it back in. But I wasn’t ready for sleep quite yet, if I slept too early, I would get up too early and I would become tired and so on. Alas, I came to the conclusion of watching TV. It was faultless.

We had recently purchased Disney Plus and as I snuggled up to ‘The Mandalorian’ I felt warm, my mattress was perfectly soft; I sunk into it comfortably, and the show was exciting. Soon, the canine I had been attacked by that morning cuddled up around me, just at the right distance for me to avoid the goo if it presented itself. She was cozy like a furry hot water bottle and I wondered that if to her I was the hot water bottle. For me, at that moment, this was the idyllic place to be.

People are out working hard for us, forcing themselves through that fog of fatigue. Except in theirs, grief at leaving their families and seeing so many deaths is interspersed within it. Driving them through is something more powerful than that harsh, thick fog. They know that right now, we need them and that this pain, this fatigue, this fog, is temporary. That’s what we all need to remember, whether we are on the front line at the hospital or in our homes. It’s temporary.

If we are so lucky as to not be an essential worker, then we get a break. A time to nurture ourselves. Life nowadays gets so busy and though I like that, everyone needs a break. Even God needed a break on the seventh day of creation. Right now, our planet is getting a break from everyday land, sea and air pollution. We should use this opportunity. To improve ourselves and to treat ourselves. If we are tired, we normally just push through, but now we can take the time to blow the fog away and try again later. It is our fog, and we control it.

Tory M.

25 June 2020

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