Retreat, Days 35-37: Retrospective

This week, a friend has been sick with covid-19. Fortunately, they did not need to go to hospital, but it was a close thing. It’s been horrible seeing them suffer their ordeal alone. One of the worst things about this pandemic is the many ways in which it isolates us. I’m feeling a lot more nervous now about getting ill myself.

I’m now into my fifth week of retreat. At the start I tried to prepare myself for an extended period of restrictions, and it’s become obvious that the old world is not coming back any time soon, if at all. We are a long way from enjoying a pint at the pub. This seems a good time to review how I’m feeling about the lockdown:

  • I made a lot of preparations for activities to stop me getting bored. This has not been a problem. Most of my energy has been needed for work, and reading is a satisfying way to fill the rest of the time. I’ve abandoned a lot of the daily activities I started doing (including juggling and learning Hindi on duolingo). Watching TV has not proved a good use of my time – I find it hard to concentrate on most shows.
  • I’ve been cooking for myself since this started, since that feels safer. I’m enjoying this, although I’m still not comfortable with the best way to get food. I’ve avoided large supermarkets, but the problem with this is needing to make more trips. Hopefully delivery services will become easier to access. I’m still a little shaken by the empty shelves when this started.
  • I really miss having visitors, and popping over to other people’s houses. Socialising by zoom is actually quite tiring compared to hanging out with people in the real world, and I’ve been trying not to spend too much time online (particularly given that work requires me to be in front of a screen).
  • A few days, I’ve left the curtains closed, and that has made me feel lethargic. So, I am making a conscious effort to keep things as bright as possible during the daylight hours.
  • My walks are to a fairly regular routine. It’s easier to get the energy to go out about 6am, and things are fairly quiet. When I have taken walks later in the day, social distancing has proved difficult. There is just not enough open space to walk in Brighton and Hove for a densely packed population.
  • I’m trying not to plan my days too much, and the looser schedule is much more comfortable. I feel a lot less anxious than normal about the things I need to do.
  • I’ve not done any volunteering on the NHS app. I am not sure about going outside any more than my daily walks, and don’t feel comfortable driving – most of the time I am too tired, as I’m not sleeping.
  • Generally, I’m finding the situation very oppressive – both the horror of the disease, and the effect it’s having on people’s lives and finances. I am quite safe and comfortable, but even so I still find it hard to sleep.
  • I feel I have quite a stable basis for however many months this goes on for. Take it slow and gentle, appreciate the distraction of my job, and focus on my writing. This is an opportunity for focussed deep work, and to reflect on my life. I’d certainly never choose this as a lifestyle, but I still feel I can make a positive experience from it.
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