Lockdown learnings…happiness and what really matters

The sun came out this weekend, just in time to remind us of good times ahead for those who’ve done the socially responsible thing and gotten vaxxed. I’m double jabbed and am looking forward to masked picnics in the park with four other people from today.

They don’t even need to be my favourite people. Any people in my local surrounds with a sense of humour, a bottle of champagne and a vaccination certificate will do. Seeing people’s faces, even just the top half I suppose, is good for the soul.

We’re all a bit over it, I think. This extended lockdown has sapped us of our positivity. I find myself more emotional than usual, and as someone whose inner seas aren’t often serenely calm, this makes for interesting times in our house. I’m not alone. My girlfriends are teary and frazzled too. We’re all breathing in and trying to find our centre, practicing mindfulness by looking at the colours in the sky, and eating too much chocolate.

We are desperate for a bit of space. A house that is ready for people to come home to, rather than one that everyone rattles around in all day leaving dirty cups and chip packets on random surfaces.  

And some freedom. Freedom to throw our minds into the future, to look ahead and make some plans. Oh, the places we’ll go when we are able to leave the confines of our 5km radius. Just to the beach to smell the sea breeze and stare over the endless ocean towards far off continents would do me right now.

Still, lockdown has given us the opportunity to learn a few home truths. And some scientific ones too.

Entropy, that law of nature that basically says everything tends towards chaos, is on display in our house. And here you can see, I tell my kids, an example of entropy. Piled-up dishes on school-from-home desks, dust that gathers like furtive shadows in corners the moment you turn the vacuum cleaner off, a dirty laundry pile on the bathroom floor that gets bigger with each passing shower, and duvet covers that get soupy if not routinely changed. Energy in (in the form of a Sunday morning “all hands” house clean) returns things, momentarily, to order. Everyone has a newfound respect for our cleaner, and longs for her return.

Exponential growth is another maths concept kids of today will never forget. An upside of a staggering rise of cases in Sydney. It’s about the only upside, although perhaps it has driven people to the vaccine hubs to play their part and protect themselves and the ones they love little more. A wake-up call that the sanctity of our island home is an illusion, that we were underprepared for the reality of a novel virus breaching the barriers, and a realisation that if we ever want to visit Santorini or have some sort of normality, we’d better get our act together and embrace the fight, armed with the best science has to offer. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

Personally, I’ve learned that social media and the news are both rife with “desperate for clicks” negativity that can leach the joy from one’s existence, and that large doses of either are best avoided. That teachers (and cleaners) need a pay rise. And that you can still host a #lockdown party that gets everyone drunk and in (literal and otherwise) good spirits if you try hard enough.

But mostly I’ve learned that the things we think matter most, the things we still have even in lockdown – our careers and our families, is not actually what gives us joy. They’re very important building blocks to who we are and our place in the world, but it is the little things, it turns out, that are the happiness cement that holds it all together – the ability to have coffee with friends, listen to live music, go window shopping or to the movies. And most of all, the opportunity to dream about possibilities.

Published by Sharlene Zeederberg

Writer, poet, dreamer, traveller, mother, amateur philosophiser, juggler, consumer behaviour specialist, psychology student.

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