A Guest Blog by Seabird Claudine
It was a clear, crisp day. Filled with sunshine, then rain, then sun, then hail, all within 5 minutes. A typical spring day then. Perhaps not typical as in regular, but typical as in we’ve seen it all before, weather-wise. Four seasons in one day. It’s one of those days where we don’t go out. Is that because we can’t be bothered? Because it’s the weekend and getting the children dressed and out of the house is more effort than it’s worth? Or is it because we are on lock-down, the pandemic of Covid 19 wreaking havoc on the world? The entire world.
As I sit in the sunshine whilst the heavens aren’t opening, I wonder if there are parts of the world unaffected, remote and cut off from others in a way that is protecting them from all that is going on. I wonder what it would be like to live in those communities. Before this, as well as now, I sometimes dream of the ideal “getting away from it all” lifestyle change, as many do I’m sure. A log cabin on the coast in a remote part of Canada, on the Sunshine Coast, maybe near Sechelt, away from people, near bears, (but friendly ones), with a glorious sea to swim in literally on my doorstep. Or in another daydream fantasy, one of those houses the characters live in on Big Little Lies; a modern mansion on the beach with a luxurious expansive deck, with sofas bigger than my entire living room, and a roaring fire-pit, overlooking the waves, and a little wooden boardwalk down to the golden sand. Anyway, I digress.
“It is unprecedented” is the phrase of the week/ fortnight/ month – who knows? We have all lost track of time. It’s like something from a Sci-fi film. People in hazmat suits (a term I wasn’t even aware of until the virus hit) all over the news, looking like they are treating people who are radioactive, or taking evidence from a crime scene. Who knew the world could be put on hold in this way? For some it has all come to a standstill. No-one needs certain products and services right now, maybe they never really did. I have always looked at certain jobs and industries and wondered if they really needed to exist. Occasionally even my own. But for some it isn’t like that.
Simultaneously other people’s worlds have gone from high pressure to incredibly intense. People working night and day to adapt, to change to find a need and meet it. For some that means profiteering: opening a shop especially to sell overpriced toilet roll and hand sanitizer. For others that means thinking how they can use their skills to provide a slightly different service and continue to make a living; restaurants offering take away service, coffee delivered to your door, everything possible being offered online, even the things that “couldn’t possibly” be done online before. Whilst others do their best with the limited resources they have to take care of others. People risking their lives working in hospitals with the most sick, trying to reduce the death toll and slow the spread. People have made the sacrifice of leaving their own homes and families so they don’t take the virus home to their loved ones or from their loved ones to the workplace where the most vulnerable are.
I miss things. I know I am privileged to have a nice house, large garden, family members to keep me company, the tech I need to stay connected. I still have the ability to go down to the seafront occasionally, get in the sea, as long as I do it alone. But I’m not sure if I should. It isn’t as much fun as going with a few others, or the big social swims when I am in the right mood for them, but it is still glorious to get into the shimmering sea and feel the bitey cold on my body.
I’ve realised, or remembered, that I am the kind of person who manages with a new situation, and doesn’t really notice how much I miss something until I get it back again. It sounds a bit contradictory, but I just plod along, feeling not quite right but OK, and dealing with the challenges that “home schooling” and struggling children bring. Some days are a battle, calming down the children who show their angst in ways that are difficult for the rest of us to be around.
But last week we had a zoom call (again, an app I was unaware of until the corona virus hit) with salty seabirds, most of us getting in a cold bath as a substitute for the sea. And I realised how much I miss them. I miss the whoops and squeals as we get in the sea. I miss the chatter and banter when we are in. I miss the giggles. I miss the dialogue: sometimes ridiculous and hilarious and sometimes profound. I miss the support when I need a moan. I miss the empathy when I have a cry. I miss the hugs when a fellow seabird just knows I need one. I miss touch. I miss conversations about something other than my family, school work, and C19. I miss the wide open space. I miss the horizon, I look at and enjoy its endlessness, it represents infinite possibilities.
But this too shall pass. Many people are in far more difficult situations than me. Many people won’t make it through. Many people will be living with the financial, emotional and physical fall out of this for years. I am lucky, but that doesn’t mean I’m not struggling. It doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to feel low.
For many, life will go back to normal, soon enough, and we’ll be back to rushing around, cramming too much in, getting stressed, spending money. But at least then we will be back with our wider tribes, we will have the freedom to come and go as we please, we will have the sea and we will have the horizon, where anything is possible.
Author: Seabird Claudine