Tuesday, April 07, 2020


Good morning, my dears.

It's Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and I'm in Covid-19 lockdown. We refer to our little farmhouse as the South Oxon Isolation Unit, at least that's the title of our Whats App group. There are four of us here; me, my beloved, my daughter and his daughter, and two dogs. The sun is out. The windows are open. There is loud and joyful birdsong. There is a bunch of daffodils on the window sill by my desk and a copy of Jerry Saltz's "How to Be an Artist."

I am exhausted. I haven't slept properly in a week and last night was a personal record; three hours may have been it. I know perspective has been skewed and I'm back to walking out in it, hoping for redemption or at least a balm. Not hard to do, not hard to walk among the blossoming hedgerows along springy green paths. Not hard to look at blue skies and feel the sun on your face. Certainly a very easy way to quarantine, if you have to. It seems quite wrong to complain at all about anything when the harrowing stories of those on the frontlines, in the hospitals, the emergency service workers, the volunteers, the doctors and nurses, who are risking their lives every single day, and who may not see their children again.

Sleepless nights are spent reading the New York Times and the Washington Post, trying to glean some meaning out of all of this. I am struck by Arundhati Roy's piece in the Financial Times which ends like this:
Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
"Or we can walk through lightly...ready to imagine another world."

Take care, everyone, wherever you may be on this planet of ours.



tedsmum said...

I had an anxious night and then day today but this sums up a lot of my spinning thoughts.I hope for that chance too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it's good to feel less alone. Sleep well tonight x

Marcheline said...

Luckily, my body is finding sleep a good escape from the stress... it's the waking hours that get me. I try to take the news in "doses" (small ones) since I live in New York, and the news just keeps getting worse every day. I have just secured permission to stay home from work for two weeks (using my vacation time of course) and on one hand I am so very relieved, while on the other two weeks suddenly seems like a drop in the bucket. But I'll take the two weeks, and I'll savor every day out in my garden while the sun shines. Blessings!

Katherine C. James said...

Had a difficult night last night despite a walk and a lot of laughter during the day. My mind kept choosing things to worry over, and I couldn't get it to let them go and turn off.

Love Arundhati Roy. Love that you quoted the Arundahti Roy FT piece. Saw it somewhere, probably on Twitter, and copied the last section into my journal. Am also drawn to the final lines, "Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it." Walking through lightly with little material luggage and little negative spiritual luggage is my goal. The shelter-in-place, to my surprise, lends itself to that preparation.

Be safe and well.

Speranza said...

Thank you so much for sharing that quote - it is a keeper, for sure, to be savored again and again. I too have not been sleeping. I go to sleep, exhausted after a day of doing nothing again and then wake at 2am. Like you, I then spend the night searching for, I don't know what - answers, solace, worrying how Boris Johnson and millions of others are doing. I can see the ghostly reflection of flashing colour in the windows of neighbours around me as they too are also awake, apparently watching television. I drink hot vanilla tea as it is too soon for the jarring effects of coffee and yes, feel grateful that all we have to do is stay at home.

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