Day 1 of lockdown has been a pretty good day, actually. Given I was looking for work when all this kicked off (talk about screeching to a halt!), my existence hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve really realised how much I adapt and how bad it is for me to not have enough to do – I’m at my best when a million things happen at once and have tight deadlines, so you can imagine what this does to me… It ain’t good. So I’ve already been trying to get focused and productive, and today I’ve almost finished all the things I set out to do.
Bambino and I are friends again. I apologised for calling him an idiot and he apologised for being one. A big thank you to you lovely people for reminding me that teenagers can be arseholes and sometimes we’re right to yell at them. I shouldn’t swear like that and perhaps tone down the crazy but there we are. What’s done is done and I’ll try to learn from it. I don’t think I need to tell you that this would have been an absolute catastrophe of biblical measures if I was still drinking. As it was, it was a shitter but it could be dealt with, as things can when we’re sober. See? Always a win! No matter what it is, being sober always means there is at least THAT, and it’s always a glorious victory.
On my run last night I had one of those little I’m-in-love-with-humanity moments. Boris says we’re allowed out for exercise once per day – thank GOD – so off I went to run the standard loop past the university, then along the river to the lock and up the high street back home. Lovely, lovely people! So well behaved and considerate, and do you know what, it’s contagious! Be the change you want to see in the world – best advice ever. Remind me who that was? Was it Gandhi? I can’t remember but whoever it was, it’s awesome advice. And there we were. Around that 6k loop I passed probably around 20 people and like clockwork we all gave each other space by moving aside, often running out on the empty roads or cycle lanes. And everyone smiled at each other. I came home bursting with endorphins and love. Talk about a turnaround from the hell hath no fury like an angry mama situation of Sunday… Well that’s me – I’m nothing if not wildly pendulous.
Well. There was one single instance of not giving space and being considerate. On the home stretch there’s a hill and on the way down the sidewalk is really wide so you could easily pass each other without having to get into the cycle path or the road. Two little old ladies were walking together and chatting. I began to move to the edge as they were on the side furthest away from the road. So far, so good. Tried to catch my breath in order to have enough of it to gasp “good evening”. Then the silly old bats moved further apart, no thought in the world as far as a two metre distance goes. In the end I had to get right out into the road to ensure I was keeping enough distance. Felt like snapping IT’S YOU GUYS WE’RE DOING THIS FOR but forced a polite smile instead.
“Careful you don’t get hit, luv,” one of them said unhelpfully.
Indeed. Silly me, eh.
The oldies don’t seem too bothered about all this, though. Do you find this? My best friend in Sweden said it’s the pensioners who are still out and about in force, lunching and socialising. That is, the people at greatest risk are the ones who seem the least fussed about it.
My grandmothers are both 92 and when I call them for a chat I usually call one after the other as otherwise they’ll get on the phone to each other and I’ll get told off for not calling the other if I called one of them. Lovingly of course, but still. It’s a bit of a lottery these days as they both have terrible hearing, plus my dad’s mum doesn’t like picking up the phone when she doesn’t recognise the number in case it’s a sales person (mine comes up as unknown) so I always try her first. This time I was in luck, she picked up just as I was about to hang up as it had been ringing forever. She told me she’d stood there for a while deciding whether to pick up but then thought it might be me as I hadn’t called for a while. Anyhoo. So I spoke with them both yesterday. Both said the same thing. Now, with almost everyone I’ve seen or spoken with since this pandemic began, there’s been stress, panic and anxiety to varying degrees. Not with my grandmothers, who, at their respectable age are pretty unlikely to get through this if they were to catch the virus – they are jointly by far the least bothered about it. And they said exactly the same thing, pretty much verbatim:
“Well, can’t complain. I’ve had it pretty good, can’t ask for more. You’ve got to be content with having got to where I am.”
Really not a worry in the world, it seems. And it struck me how nice it was to have that sort of outlook. Whatever will be, will be. They both said how bad it is, but just went on to express a sense of peace with the situation. One is slightly immobile due to bad balance and brittle bones – she just said, well, the people who deliver her meals and help her out are healthcare staff and they just take extra care. The other still goes out on her walks but said she is more careful. They’re aware of it and they’re doing what they can but have no fear of the unknown or the things out of their control. Perhaps that’s what the age of 92 does, perhaps you’ve reached some sort of wisdom and feel at peace with the world and life. Although I think it’s right that we’re adjusting our ways in order to manage this crisis, my grandmothers’ view on the world reminded me of this one simple device:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t control, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Another thing that struck me as I spoke to them, was how these two old ladies also really demonstrated this other thing I heard or read somewhere. Can’t remember who said it but I think it’s a buddhist thing. See, so many of us will say: “PANIC! Everything’s out of control!” but the buddhist way, apparently, is to say: “CALM! Everything’s out of control!”
Well, there we are. I’ve gone from loony-tunes furious to peaceful and optimistic again. And all it took was a good run and speaking with two little old ladies.
Today I’m not going to drink.