"Are you busy?" asked my friend when she called yesterday evening. "Hmmm", I thought, "rather". I was crouching awkwardly in my bedroom doorway, one hand balancing steadying me against the floor, camera in the other, trying to capture the perfection of the light as it streamed into the room. I have become unapologetically obsessed by the daily light show in my bedroom as the sun moves round to the west and floods my flat with a golden filter. It actually made me gasp the first time I saw it. I've lived here for 3 years and never really noticed it, or perhaps never been at home at 5pm, mid week in early May. There is something about the way the sun bounces in through the leaves of the tree outside the window and then gets distorted by the old Victorian windows that convinces me I could happily write a thesis on its many glittering forms. (If anybody is suffering from lockdown insomnia, I may have discovered the solution!) It has become a treasured little lockdown ritual, watching the sunset, cross legged on my bed, with a ginger and quarantonic, imagining myself in a sort of suburban Cafe del Mar and it is just one of the little gifts the world has given me during lockdown.
Appreciating the beauty of nature is perhaps entry level cliche in "things I'm grateful for" lists but I'm proudly sticking it at the top of mine. David Hockney reassured the world in March that, "they can't cancel spring" and how perfectly the world proved his point. My camera roll is a tedious stream of flora and fauna from the square where I take my daily constitutional, interjected with the odd video of a tree from which an anonymous woodpecker sounds. A WOODPECKER!? They are actually rather common apparently but not for this city gal, who thought they were to be filed somewhere between unicorn and push-me-pull-you. I now know the tide times and when to avoid the path at Chiswick Mall because it floods. Who on earth have I become?
When the force of the wind blows down a branch in my path or a double rainbow appears out of a grey sky, or the leaves appear on a tree overnight, or a Flower Moon makes me do a double take, I am reminded of just how simple life can be when it is allowed to be. How much joy and gratitude can be gained from the things we have no control over. How the love we have for our fellow creatures is in our nature, it's not bought or sold. If we're not running the show, then really anything is possible.
So, going for a walk every day is something I intend to honour when life returns to "normal" because it undoubtedly buffs the edges of my soul. Here are some of the other things I'd like to hang on to:
1. a) Keep making my own lunch. Treat Pret as a rare and precious luxury not an extension of my own fridge. But also...
b) Go immediately to Pret and have the rare and precious luxury of a Posh Cheddar & Pickle baguette.
2. Keep donating to food banks and commit to volunteering. The ease, comfort and security of my own life has made me rethink how much I take for granted and how much more I can give.
3. Stop wasting time on my appearance when I really don't need to. RIP hairdryer. But make a ritual of painting my nails every Sunday night and never again take for granted the unashamed joy of a full head of highlights.
4. Keep making my own coffee...lockdown has forced me to rethink my caffeine habits and I now make an outrageously delicious brew courtesy of an Aeropress and Curious Roo coffee (try it, you won't regret it!)
5. Smile at everyone I pass on the street, EVERYONE.
6. Do a lot more squats (thank you Sarah for the annoyingly addictive Bring Sally Up Squat Challenge)
7. Spend more time at my mum's cottage admiring her vegetable garden, listening to T Rex on full volume, eating sourdough and doing puzzles.
8. If in doubt (but safe to do so), always go in for the hug.