Image credit: Call Me By Your Name
Friday, 7th May 2020
During my one and only group-call of quarantine, a friend made a very insightful comment while we collectively pondered what would become of the world- a standard topic of conversation for university students, but one that is now near-impossible given the current situation. It was early in the lockdown, and we were still suffering from the whiplash of the crescendo of our final year dissolving over the course of a week. The anticipated all-nighters, coffee-fuelled library-breakdowns and raucous end-of-year parties, evaporating before our eyes. One day we were ironically bringing Coronas to our neighbours’ flat party, the next we were packing perishable foods into our suitcases.
So there we were, pondering whether mass civil-unrest would break out, and if it might be helpful to start growing our own veg in case food ran out, when Ellie suggests “maybe lockdown will help people to learn to live slowly”. Learn to live slowly? Surely a global pandemic was not the time to undertake a lifestyle overhaul. With the rising death toll announced nightly on the news, would we even have lives to overhaul…? Well, six weeks later and evidently (fortunately) we’re all still here and healthy. And, in our household at least, Ellie’s seemingly optimistic prediction has rung true.
Instead of spending the last six weeks rushing through life, fuelled by coffee and the adrenaline of deadline season, life has felt more like reliving a school summer holiday. Not only because I’m milling about at home with my siblings, or because April 2020 has been unusually sunny. But because of the abundance of time lockdown has forced us into. Days melt into weeks, sleepy afternoons in the sun are spent in the garden, nobody knows what day it is. I’ve watched the fruit trees in the garden blossom, flood with bees, and then disperse. Asparagus has arrived in bunches of bright green spears, laid out proudly and accompanied by honesty boxes outside neighbours’ houses. The sea has graduated from ice cold to just cold, and the waves have calmed to a non-terrifying height. Life now feels so far removed from busy, goal-driven university life. Lockdown time is diametrically opposed to its counter-part, it’s directionless, generous, free. And yet the only thing that has tangibly changed is that I am confined to my house.
Lockdown has made me reconsider what is necessary and important. As someone who was repeatedly described as a “determined” “workaholic” in my school reports, lockdown has given me a much needed hiatus in which to have a timely existential crisis. Is it healthy or useful to rush through life ticking off goals and achievements? Not for me, or the planet. The global pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity to question what I am doing with my time. As Frances in ‘Conversations With Friends’ suggests, maybe life is just “the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen”. Maybe having a little less drive, taking a little more time is better for us and the planet.