I’ve gone for a full-on, multi-lap, outdoors swim twice since lockdown easing, and both times it has felt brand new—as if I’d just discovered something I never knew before: weightlessness, speechlessness.
The experience was hard to define, to describe. As if born anew? It felt like summertime when as a kid, splashing about. I hadn’t a care in the world, or at least for a minute at a time I believed so. That’s what post-lockdown, even in this moment’s current iteration, feels like—fresh, free and absolutely new. Have I been here before? Of course I have, but that pause in time, a year plus to be exact, has reshaped my thinking, my experience, my understanding of both my intimate world and the one at large.
Out of my bubble, away from the familiar, the ones I love, I’m amazed. Everything is startling, full of that essence that piques curiosity. Lighter? Sun shining brighter? What a boon this lockdown has been. I’ve come back with a new take on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t mind the quality of things, or at least my previous take on the quality of things, like service. I also listen more, really listen. People are a lot cleverer than I had given them credit for—shame on me! I hear birds, and I am astounded. Have they always been there?
Okay, so we have all heard at one time or another about the miracle of life, society, art, maths, science, intelligence, self and other, but coming out of lockdown, I am almost dumbfounded by the sheer fact that without this pause in time, I might have missed it all in some deep, integral way.
Intellectually, who doesn’t know that woman is a walking, talking miracle (man, too), and that society, well…how do we get it all done? But I do find myself doing double takes on my new gym app that can almost book appointments on its own, or on Zooming now being second nature (easier than a face to face?), or answering my phone by using the camera on WhatsApp. Moving money in seconds? Digitization? How did we, how did I, get here in just a year? How did stopping propel us so significantly forward?
What I am trying to say is that I am grateful for this newfound sense of embracing myself, my life and the world in a way that I might have missed without the pandemic, without an enforced lockdown. How did I ever exist for all this time with such a lack of gratitude, or not so much a lack of thanks, but taking it all for granted?
In time, some say that all that newness and gratefulness will blow away, that what I now see as miraculous, a blade of grass or the propagation of my jade trees, will not astonish me. Life will speed up again. Normal will return.
Who knows? I think some aspects of life have gotten faster, but that speed has allowed for other areas to slow down. Technology has been a real blessing during this past year; demystified, even. Helpful. For today, however, for right now, for just this second, I will be amazed and enjoy every second of this newness, of the funny stripey fingernails my Core Class instructor wears, by the proximity of a deep wood to my home, which I never knew existed, and even by my son’s uncovering a talent for unique beats and a singular voice when he chooses to sing.
I have a friend who says that “God is in the pause,” which technically means (I think) something like “look before you leap,” but in this case, I see the Covid-19 pandemic as a sort of pause, albeit a Big Pause, and if God is that miracle of love and respect for all things great and small, then I must agree. In this Pause I have found something Spanking Brand New, perhaps a truer love of Self and, more importantly, a deeper love for All.
Now, for that third open-air, night-time swim in approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. Wishing you the same, a June full of old things made new.
On sale, paperback released 28th September