If I could have a super power, I’d like to be able to ‘switch on the light’ both physically and metaphorically. The shortest day may have passed and yet I wake up in the dark, finish work in the dark, and the light in between seems relentlessly grey and gloomy.
Lockdown 1 had novelty value and summer sun to warm our hearts. Lockdown 2 was lockdown lite with the promise of Santa delivering Christmas to keep us well-behaved. But this ‘winter is coming’ Lockdown 3 is taking its toll on me. My motivation is carrots not sticks and a constant diet of fear-inducing news is a recipe for emotional indigestion.
An overwhelmed NHS, staff on the brink of collapse, 2nd vaccines delayed and no research into how that will affect long-term immunity – this is my regular nightcap. So instead of counting sheep I now find myself counting Covid cases. No wonder then that my sleep is disturbed and my nerves frazzled.
The media is constantly telling us that a reckless minority is spoiling it for the law-abiding majority and, indeed, I do almost pine for that clear-cut early period when roads were empty, supermarket aisles had a one-way system and outings were limited to once a day. But now traffic is noticeable, shoppers rifle unfettered through the shelves, whilst green spaces are jam-packed with gossiping exercisers with take-away lattes in hand.
The problem is that we all interpret the rules differently. The Nearly-Beloved is an advocate of total internment and would love to issue me with a weekly-only pass to the supermarket and a timed physical activity hour. Grunting Teen is also more than happy to retreat to his fetid den where fresh air rarely filters through and daylight is viewed with vampirish suspicion. However, if we’ve run out of milk, I’m the first to pop down to the shop and I justify a brisk walk round the park as exercise, combined with the chance to see my daughter at a distance.
And whilst I’m certainly not hanging out at raves, partying indoors or licking people’s faces, I am relying on the current ‘outdoor exercise with one other person’ as the only light in my current darkness. Take that away from me and I may finally fall into the abyss. Because, whilst re-runs of Friends may bring a smile to my face, it’s the physical presence of a bestie that gets me beaming. Knowing that they actually exist as flesh and blood rather than sound waves and pixels somehow lifts my spirits. A long hike on a short day with a good mate brings the sun back out from behind those thick clouds.
We’re all tired now and it’s easy to fall into the gloom. I, for one, am certainly stumbling around in the shadows at the moment. But If I can’t switch on the light then at least I can switch off the dark. For, whilst I need to be informed, I don’t need to be intimidated. Facts are useful, fear is not. So, I can watch the news headlines and change programmes before a young marathon-runner-struck-down-in-their-prime is wheeled out to terrify me, or a tale of feckless behaviour turns me against my fellow human. Even better, I can read the local paper with details relevant to my situation and, for heart-warming balance, articles about random acts of kindness. And I can foster a glass-half-full rather than half-empty attitude, choosing to believe we’ll soon be vaccinating our way out of this pandemic.
They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. Surely the sun will be rising soon…