Being in lockdown, collectively responding to a global pandemic, is a feat of endurance. We need to pace ourselves. Yes, there are many things that we cannot do right now. Yes, lockdown presents opportunities, but don’t forget to give yourself a break.
None of us know what life will be like after this. All our instinctive comprehension of how things will work out has evaporated in the face of what is a huge, complex, tangled mess, so we are forced to recognize our vulnerability and lack of knowledge. And we don’t know how long that will last, how long we will have to cope with it. It’s petrifying.
Various people have compared this pandemic to the first and second world wars and the need for “blitz spirit”. From what I tell, having listened to my grandparents, this is nothing like living through a world war although perhaps the sense of uncertainty is similar. The comparison is merely to give us (the masses) some confidence that this will come to an end and we will be victorious, so let’s not get too hung up on living up to perceptions of the blitz spirit of bravery and heroism.
It is tempting to look at this lockdown period as the time when we ‘should’ take advantage of the opportunities, study that course, do all those jobs at home, be a super-parent, bake cakes and be uber-productive…. Fuck that.
I am approaching this endurance race as a series of sprints because that’s all my brain can cope with right now. I have no idea about the long term future so I am focusing on the short term and I mean short term, like today. I start each day with a plan of what I need to get done, sorted or think about and then I add in what I would like to get done, sorted or think about. Each time something a bit longer term comes into my head, I put it on a post-it and add it to the to-do or backlog parts of my Kanban board.
Each day is a little sprint, to keep moving forwards, in the endurance test that is life in lock down. Each sprint completed is a step closer to knowing a bit more about how this will work out and I feel a sense of progress. I am learning to be ok with the feelings of vulnerability and I can process the fact that I am OK in not knowing exactly what will happen.
In a time of collective trauma, that we are all experiencing, and the toll it is takes on our mental and physical wellbeing, I think it is important to give ourselves every opportunity available to cope with it, accept it and let it happen. It’s exhausting and difficult but it also opens up the chance to change our habits and practices. My coping mechanism for trauma or crisis is to organize the shit out of it but I can’t do that here. I have to create a new habit. A habit of daily sprints.