It’s all change again, as the months of solitary lockdown in one place, give way to travel and company. The ground shifts again and we negotiate our way to a new new normal, with face masks and the opportunity for a hug within a bubble.
Since the beginning of lockdown, I have been living in a cottage in the middle of nowhere in a valley down a track from Samye Ling in South West Scotland. I have driven no further than Samye Ling to deposit my rubbish in a bin on the way there and to do a socially distanced shopping pick up. One of the nuns living there has kindly been ordering my shopping for me so I haven’t had to go out shopping. I have been here with my dogs and so quite isolated from other human beings, except for the occasional socially distanced conversation with my new neighbours.
I have done a lot of connecting on Zoom, with colleagues, when teaching courses and with family. In fact, I have seen a lot more of my family than I usually do, because I live quite a way away from them. It has been lovely to reconnect with them, especially those who I really don’t often see. I hope that this continues. I have regularly FaceTimed with my daughter and my best friends. So I haven’t been short of connection with others.
The first month I had an occasional wobble. I wasn’t used to living on my own and now I was really on my own. At my last interview with my teacher Lama Yeshe Rinpoche before lockdown, as a newly single woman, he advised that I should now become completely self-reliant. Lockdown was a great opportunity for that and in the latter part of the lockdown I have been pretty contented and enjoyed the freedom to please myself and enjoyed the solitude.
The main thing I have struggled with is not seeing my daughter. She has just finished her second year at university in Manchester and so because I used to go to Manchester once a fortnight for our MAHQ meetings I got to see her regularly before lockdown. We would go out for something to eat before I got the train back up the Scotland. So, I have missed her. That said, whenever my mind went to that topic, I wouldn’t dwell and make things worse. Instead, I would feel the feelings and simply be present and it was fine.
I expect there was also a certain amount of suppression there as well. I suspect that I was applying the famous British stiff upper lip!
This became apparent this week when I went to pick her up to bring her home. I was quite tearful when I saw her and so happy to have her with me again. It made me realise how much I had actually been missing seeing her. I think the tears were also to do with being hugged, after not having touched another human being for over three months. The mindfulness world is quite a huggy one and so it has been strange not to hug. I have had to hug my dogs instead, which while lovely, is not the same.
I think many of us will be in this situation at the moment. Seeing people we love, that we have not seen for several months. Realising how much we had missed them and how much we pretended we weren’t missing them so as to get through the lockdown with good grace and a modicum of cheerfulness.
The other change was driving quite far afield to pick her up. I could have been quite anxious about this but decided to find a different perspective. I had a little talk to myself and recognised that I had decided that I was going to pick her up and so, given that decision had been made, there was not point worrying about it. Amazing how a little common sense helps. The driving was fine, little traffic, and I negotiated the petrol station OK. It is a self-service, pay at pump petrol station and so no other, potentially virus shedding, humans to navigate. So I sanitised, filled up the car, and sanitised again, easy. Although, I did wait until after I had picked my daughter up to do this, for moral support! No point being nervous – just get on with it.
It is very good having her around as we are out and about in this post lockdown world, as she spent lockdown at university in Manchester and so, unlike me, she has been navigating a busy city and food shopping throughout lockdown. She has ordered a funky face mask and says she will make one for me. The delight of a grown up daughter! She is now sorting out my garden for me, which was a wilderness including some pots of home grown veg.
The changes we are experiencing as we move out of lockdown can be as overwhelming as those we experienced going in to lockdown and so we can cut ourselves some slack. The human condition is resistant to change and so it is not surprising if we find ourselves a bit more anxious or angry than usual. The trick is to find some perspective and to be kind to ourselves. The best way to take care of the future is not to worry about it. The best way to take care of the future is to be present now……and now……and now……and trust that our presence in the future will be sufficient. A sense of humour also helps!
If in doubt, just keep going and good luck as and when your lockdown eases.