Sometimes there is a fine line between guilt and gratitude.
Over the past few months many people have lost their jobs, businesses and incomes. Not having the means to pay bills is terribly distressing. People battling serious illness, dying or losing loved ones is beyond tough. The shock, the uncertainty and the dread of these times has been confronting and at times brutal.
I have wrestled with survivor guilt. Unlike many others, I have stayed well and have everything I need to live and more. On top of that I have had the luxury of slowing down and staying home. Recently I reached a point where my concern and guilt was eclipsed by a renewed sense gratitude and perspective about my life.
I have been thinking about the fact that in Australia we don’t have long harsh winters like some countries in the Northern Hemisphere. We miss out on the experience of getting snowed in and having to hunker down for extended periods of time. To shut down is a new concept for us in Australia. It took some getting used to but there is something about hibernating for a few months a year that appeals to me. It would feel so satisfying and primal to shamelessly stock up on the last of summer’s blueberries and then sink into a deep rest through the darkness of winter. Oh, to be a bear!
Some interesting and positive shifts have happened for me during this time of having to stay home and suspend most of our regular activities. I liken it to being pruned back like we might do to a tired rose. It may seem extreme and unpleasant but then miraculously, small buds of new growth gently appear and equilibrium returns. These are my wins:
- When the restrictions began, my sleep was disrupted almost every night by often strangely hilarious and vivid dreams. I even started documenting them in a dream journal. However, as the days unfolded into weeks I felt myself and my sleep settle down again.
- Now I feel so rested and peaceful. The slower pace and staying home has done wonders for my physical and mental health.
- My creativity is buzzing again. I am cheering about that. Ideas for a new story and other creative endeavours have been flooding in.
- I have fallen more deeply in love with getting up early. For me the break of each day is an extravagant gift. It’s magical, blissful and too good to miss.
- Also, my focus has sharpened. On my walks and wandering in my garden I have been more aware of the exquisite details around me: the unfolding fern, the wild mushroom, the tiny finches and my new favourite, raindrops.
- More than ever I love being home. It is one of my happiest places. Over this time I re-evaluated every room. I shifted things around, rehung pictures, added in some details. Now each room feels even more inviting, balanced and cosy to me.
- One of the additions I have made to our home is a small array of indoor plants. For some reason, I have not had indoor plants until now. I am smitten. The other day my daughter caught me talking to them.
- I have more admiration for our chickens. They are so content in their daily routines and companionship, so simple in their needs. I love observing their quirky personalities and how they strut around in their new winter petticoats.
- I grew to know my garden better and appreciate her like I would a long time friend: she is faithful, comforting, uniquely beautiful, sweet and generous. This season the proteas, camellias and cyclamens are especially lovely.
- Autumn became my firm favourite season all over again. The weather, the trees, the colours and the sunrise skies are wonderful. I adore the gentleness of autumn.
- I had time to reflect on the future and I wrote a comprehensive list of all the hopes and dreams I have for the days ahead. It doesn’t matter if they don’t all come to pass. I found that daydreaming about possibilities is a pleasure in itself.
- I always enjoy reading but I was so thankful for the extra opportunities to lose myself in a book. The books below are my latest happy discoveries. Julia Baird’s ‘Phosphorescence’ is particularly timely!
- Finally, I have been heartened by the prevalence of goodness in the world. There have been many examples of people demonstrating courage, creativity and care in dealing with the crisis. We came up with innovative ideas to connect with the dear ones we could not meet face to face. Our healthcare workers received the recognition and appreciation they deserve. The artists, poets, comedians and musicians of our communities pitched in to deliver joy and humour to us in a variety of ways. We found alternative approaches for celebrating, studying, working and commemorating. Even taking the bin out became an opportunity to dress up and have fun. Goodwill and hope have won the day.
While I have missed beaches, libraries, art galleries, live music and cinemas, I trust they will return. This is just one season among many and the future is brimming with more wonder, growth and discovery. I am grateful.
What has this time been like for you?