What do you write about when the world is grinding to a halt? Do you write about other things to bring distraction or do you focus on what is happening now? There is an outpour of tips on how to handle life in lockdown. How to keep the kids busy, how to stay healthy and fit, how to cope with the mental strain. And we are feeling the strain.
Yesterday I had my last almost normal outing before we go into lockdown tomorrow at midnight. My daughter and I went to the mall to get moisturiser and conditioner. It was more quiet than usual and at the checkout, markers taped to the floor, showed us where we should stand. Not too close.
We were buying normal items at our usual store, but it felt so surreal. Everything was almost the same. The hand sanitiser before you enter the store and one or two people wearing masks were the only obvious signs that normal was about to change. All around us people were talking more hushed than I’ve ever heard in our vibrant South African culture. When you walked by someone, you made sure that you gave them a wide berth and didn’t touch by accident. It felt toned down.
We need time to adjust and that is what we don’t have. This change was thrust upon us, not by government or war or recession, but by something invisible. We cannot come together and protest our dissatisfaction. Waving banners and demanding change has no power. We have to be apart to try and get a handle on this situation.
Isolation is going to be difficult. Three weeks isn’t a long time, but when you don’t have choice and freedom, it will feel longer. As social beings we will miss interaction with some and miss not interacting with others. We are very fortunate that we can encourage each other via Whatsapp, Instagram and all the other online forums.
Social media seems to be the salvation, but I find that nothing captures my attention. Self-isolation isn’t always physical. To get myself out of my own mind, I am going to practice to be present. No hiding from reality, wishing that this was over already. Living through it as bravely as I can.