The coronavirus pandemic that grips the world has caused a shift in many aspects of life that we’ve all just taken for granted. I’ve had to give up trips to my local coffee shop to meet friends, I can’t travel to Cheshire to see family and, as one of the lucky ones, I’m tied to a computer screen five days every week in online meeting after online meeting.
That all sounds like a complaint, but it’s far from it. Maybe I’m losing the plot a little because I don’t really have anything to worry about, but I’m enjoying this time. It feels precious and not to be wasted as I might normally fritter away my days. I do feel a strong pull to ‘do something useful’ with my downtime but mostly I’m resisting it and spending time enjoying listening to the sounds of the world that I rarely hear, either because of traffic noise or usually because I’m too caught up what I should be doing next about my future.
It might be fair to say that on reflection most of my life to date has been spent chasing false gods and rainbows, those imagined blessings that only come at some point in the future, preferably to lift me out of whatever mess it is I’ve managed to get myself in to this time.
They are the gods of money and time, and the rainbows of ‘if only’ or ‘someday’. These have drained me and chained me in ways I could never really have appreciated until now – right at this moment in time when the world stops and many of us get a chance to get off the merry-go-round, at least for a little while.
I don’t know what your merry-go-round is, it might be health, family or work. For me it was the regular chatter in my head of all the things I must do, should do, would do, if only I had both the time and money to do so. In other words, life would be so much better at some mythical point in the future when both time and money were under some illusion of control.
Don’t get me wrong though, my life is certainly not a disaster movie, but it has been plagued by a genuine misunderstanding of what life is actually all about and then confusing it with life circumstances or events. Somehow along the way I conflated the two into the same thing, and I’m slowly beginning to realise that’s really not the case. My life is the undercurrent that is constant, a safe space to be which is only accessible in whatever moment I happen to find myself in; my life circumstances on the other hand are those things that flow around this; the activities and daily challenges that we all have to deal with. What I’m learning is they aren’t the same thing, they are very different and now I know that, perhaps I won’t confuse the two anymore!
So, lockdown in the coronavirus has shown me three things:
- I don’t really need that much money to live a good, happy life. I still have the same £30 in my purse I had four weeks ago. And yes, I’ve bought food with the card from our joint account, but it’s been minimal.
- I enjoy my restricted life. Sure I miss the coffee shop with my friends – but it’s the people I miss rather than the coffee. And I can keep up with them on social media, via zoom, Teams or any of the many online meeting spaces.
- I now appreciate that time is an illusion. There is only the present moment – the past and the future only exist in my head, not in any reality. And if I remain present to the ‘now’ I have no problems, just situations I need to deal with. That’s removed a whole host of worry and overthinking that normally occupies my non-working hours.
I realise I’m one of the lucky ones. My work has increased rather than decreased as the industry I work in is now in high demand. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about money, or lack of it.
If there is one thing I will change about my future it’s that I will (at least attempt) to stop chasing rainbows – instead I will use the gift of the present to do today, what I might usually have put off to tomorrow and in that way build an even better, happier future for myself, my husband and our two dogs.
Image: courtesy Pexels at Pixabay.