Writing through a pandemic: Isolation D-05

We are in lockdown.

Inhale.

I went to the beach. Ran down there, because you’re not meant to use public transport or cars except for essentials. I took my dog and ran through the park, through quiet streets. Took off my shoes and walked along where the water meets the sand. Wished I could walk into the water and swim.

Exhale.

Found my way home by early afternoon. Took a shower and made a protein smoothie for lunch. Caught up on the daily health and political briefings I’d missed.

Inhale.

. . . 

Exhale.

. . .

How do you work in a pandemic? When the sky is blue and the water is clear and the air is cool and refreshing. When the numbers of the infected are growing and the Director General of Health has announced the country’s first death, and your mind is on those friends and relatives in places harder hit. When more people than usual are out for a stroll or a run because there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to do and the same four walls and inescapable housemates are banging on the sides of everyone’s skull.

How do you work?

Inhale.

Exhale.

I planned my week on Sunday, and packed my Monday full. The only thing I completed was my run. I didn’t account for the sweet autumn air or the ocean at my feet. I didn’t account for the good half-hour of meditative post-run peace I spent sitting on the deck. Or the hour after that catching up on the virus’s path around the world.

This is privilege. I recognise that. I should be able to work. Why is it so hard?

Some say it’s trauma, others grief. I’m not so sure it is either. I have always been distracted by the need to know everything about an ongoing event. Like searching for closure, almost. An event that moves so far and so fast, changing moment to moment… it is impossible to catch up. Impossible to read the twitter experience of everyone with the disease, every relative, every friend, every nurse and doctor. Each balcony song, each neighbourhood teddy, each local story of the lockdown. Italy, Australia, the UK. The slow-motion train crash that is the USA. All of the bad news. All of the good news. All of the estimates, the projections, the best- and worst-case-scenarios.

Inhale.

I’m already thinking about tomorrow’s walk. Maybe I’ll go somewhere new. There are so many more options, for a walk, when there’s no traffic on the roads. What was unthinkably busy has become quiet and sedate. I’ll listen to a podcast and sit on the grass under a tree, with my dog beside me. How is it things are so peaceful and beautiful, for such a harrowing reason?

Exhale.

The moments away from the news are so important. I need my exercise, and so does my dog. I appreciate this daily time to myself. But then I come home, and turn on my computer, and I don’t work. And I don’t know why.

Inhale.

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