Day seven and the end of the first week in lockdown. Was it the longest week of my life? It was certainly the most challenging, mentally, as my mind struggled to make sense of the vast and drastic changes imposed on our society, in the interests of keeping us safe and slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. My head reels at the impact of the new governmental measures - the loss of civil liberties, the increase in state surveillance, the ramped up presence and power of the police and the health authorities to curtail our activities and control our movements in an attempt to eradicate the virus. A friend passed on a long essay by Charles Eisenstein today. There he raises the questions I had not quite managed to articulate for myself and spoke to the vague unease I have been feeling since lockdown began.
On day six of the lockdown I opened my blinds and my attention was caught by a brilliant orange flower, a cluster of tubular bells shining in the low morning light, from the green leafy hedge below my window. Tecoma capensis is it’s name, or more commonly it’s known as ’Cape Honeysuckle’, in reference to its South African origin. The orange flag drew my eye to the wider view, out under the avocado tree, over the rooftops to the gentle sloping incline of Rangitoto rising from a pale blue sea. The start of another new day in the time of Coronavirus.
Day 5 of the lockdown. I have already written a post today. This second one Is an attempt to establish a better rhythm, one that is closer to my writing habit on the Karekare House Writer’s residency last year. There I would let the day fill up with experiences in the natural world and then, in the quiet of night, reflect on the things I had observed. In this way the writing seemed closer to the experience, more immediate.
Yesterday, day four of lockdown, was all about connection and communication with friends and loved ones. The timings in my schedule went out the window but when I checked through the list I realised I had honoured the components, apart from business affairs. On a Sunday? I wasn’t in the mood.
Yesterday, as I marked day 3 of the lockdown on my calendar, I paused and wondered how many days will it be before I can see my children and my grandson again. I tried not to look into the future, tried not to predict a negative scenario. And then I put the thought to one side and set off down the driveway to the street.
Yesterday I noted day 2 of the lockdown on my calendar. The day again was busy and fractured, there was a sense of not doing the things I’d planned, of hopping from task to task, of feeling slightly/wildly out of control in this tipping, spinning universe, and yet, the day like the one before contained new experiences, new learnings and blessed moments of stillness and clarity.
Yesterday was day 1 of lockdown. I noted it on my calendar. The day was muddled, disorganised, disrupted and it was also brilliant because I mastered a new skill - I took part in two zoom meetings. I began the day composing a daily schedule. It includes: writing time, attending to business matters, of which there are a lot following the successful outcome of divorce mediation last week, housework - keeping the two spaces ordered in my tiny granny flat, on the lower slopes of Takarunga in Devonport, might give me a sense of control - I've included the important daily communication with close family and friends, Radio NZ programme to awaken to and keep on for company - apart from the glorious music, it has fewer news bulletins and I need that as a protection against worry - exercise. I’ll expand and refine the components as I go. Gratitude is on my mind today as I remember yesterday. I am grateful for the mellow autumn day we were granted and my walk around the volcanic cone of Takarunga. I went without my phone wishing for time out from messaging and instantly regretted it when I got up high and scanned the expansive views of the sparking city floating on its isthmus, Rangitoto silent and Sphinx like across the water, the sea silky and smooth and the colour of pale blue milk. Along the path I saw a child swinging on a rope swing above and her mother watching from lower down the vertical incline. I hadn’t ever noticed that swing on all my walks around Takarunga during my time on the Michael King residency in 2012. The father and his son were throwing acorns at a fence trying to hit a mid-point. They grinned when I commented on their resourcefulness. ‘We had five acorns and five goes and both failed to hit the bullseye,’ said the father. My day ended with a meeting of my Buddhist sangha on Zoom. I could see them. I could hear their sane reflections. Our scholar teacher, presently stranded in Birmingham, led us into the thirty minute meditation. Her emphasis was on compassion, for the self, compassion for every human being on this planet currently challenged by the pandemic. Then she led us into silent meditation on the words, Here. Now. This.