Nineteen days of lockdown and this day began badly for me. I woke from a dream of blindness. These dreams and the one where I am being chased by a person intent on killing me were happening fairly regularly towards the end of my old life and continued through the two and a half years that followed. I had hoped that with the future, supposedly, more secure they wouldn’t stalk me anymore. In the blindness dream I am in a perilous situation; I am backing a car down a street at a furious speed and I can’t see behind me. There is a feeling of dread, that I must surely crash; I’m pushed out of an aeroplane and don’t know how far I’m going to fall or whether a parachute is opening above; this morning I was trying to dodge the crazy traffic around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. My eyes in these monstrous dreams are shut tight, wedged so firmly, it’s as though a suctional force is in action that I am powerless to override. I struggle and struggle. Sometimes my eyelids lift slightly and I see, briefly, the terrible scene in front of me, and then they snap shut and I’m engulfed again in the nightmare.
I think these dreams are provoked by an unnamed fear, something in the present that is worrying me but that I am refusing to confront. Only the other day, in the midst of a discussion about the thing that currently unsettles me, I said to my friend, ‘I don’t want to think about it.’ I’ve found the only way to conquer such fear is to face it head on, which is what I know I have to do tomorrow.
The circumstances of lockdown give us plenty to worry about. Only this morning I tried again to read the Guardian news on my phone app and ended up in a lather over the negative commentaries: how long this will go on for — forever; the race to produce the vaccine — months away, years possibly; immunity following recovery from the virus — you could catch it again in two years. How is any of this helpful! Who are the people who write these articles? Do they have any conscience? There was even an educational story about the coronavirus, told in a sing-song fairy tale kind of writing voice, as though the virus was a person, with likes and needs, a clever thing too. And then into the story came the bats, the carriers of the virus, more clever creatures who can mount a resistance so quickly the viruses have to think up new strains, fast to outwit them. I slumped down on the table with my head in my hands and groaned.
Thank goodness there is the natural world, I am continually grateful for its constancy and unconditional support. Today when I circled the park, three times round the hill, at a brisk pace, I felt the tangle of worry float out of my chest. I gave myself up to the loveliness of the late afternoon. Watery sunlight flowed over me, the wind it brushed through my hair. And through the grasses it softly blew making them sway. I stopped then at the wall of volcanic rock to observe their quiet movement and felt a peace descend on me. Higher up on Takarunga there were small figures — a red one, a blue one, a yellow one and someone in white — their legs moving like pincers, open, shut. Then way above the small people on the mountain top big expansive clouds of wondrous mushroom-pink hung in the sky. They were moving ever so slowly.