Life interrupted – 15

In Victoria, we have had more than 20 days of double donuts and for the first time since February there are zero active cases of Covid-19. In August we had 7000+ active cases so the turn around is remarkable.

The borders are opening up, we don’t have to wear masks outside anymore (thank goodness). Christmas can go ahead, all be it with reduced numbers; Bunnings is open, you can sit in a cafe and shop for things that aren’t essential.

I saw my sister for the first time in months and I’ve been able to go to a friend’s house as part of their social bubble. The sun is shining, people are relieved and grateful for the opportunity to do something normal.

But the world is still on fire. And if for five seconds you forget it there’s a few thing to remind you.

South Australia went into lockdown for six days and then lifted it again when they found someone lied to contact tracers about his relationship to a pizza shop. Even more surprising their outbreak was caused through hotel quarantine, exactly the same as in Melbourne. I mean it’s like all the other states with their smug return to normal were not paying attention at all.

In the US they had an election and the person who lost won’t concede and keeps claiming fraud and votes being illegal. The US always painted itself as a beacon on the hill for freedom and democracy, it’s terrifying to watch its descent into chaos.

Twelve million people in the US now have Corona Virus. The death rate is one of the highest in the world. Sweden, which went for some kind of herd immunity model have had 6000 cases in a single day. In the UK they have re-imposed lockdowns, as well as all over Europe.

Australia while relatively covid-free (touch wood), everyday we seem to be governed by a more and more morally corrupt, hypocritical and partisan federal government. But hey you’ll get a few dollars in your bank account because of tax cuts – the fact the mostly help the rich is just details.

There are allegations of war crimes committed by our soldiers in Afghanistan to just make you feel sick to your stomach. The horrifying report alleges 39 murders were committed by SAS soldiers during the Afghanistan war. It’s hard to read, and even harder to understand how we ended up here.

Meanwhile, the government had to pay out 1.2 billion dollars of our money in the failed and illegal Robodebt scheme that is linked to the suicide of 2000 people. Ministers should have lost their jobs but if there is one thing this government excels in is lack of accountability.

It’s the end of the year and I’m tired. The lack of distraction means there’s been nothing else to think about other than how messed up stuff is. While this makes things larger than they would probably be normally, it’s also given me time to clarify exactly where I stand politically and a whole bunch of other stuff as well.

And that might just be about the only good thing to come out of this year.

(I’m going to keep the life interrupted series going but it might be dispersed with other new topics now… Stay tuned and thanks for reading).

Life interrupted – 14

Donuts… That what today is, donuts day. O new cases, O lives lost. The first time since June we have had no new active cases.

A second lockdown period started in July and after 112 days today we were told that restrictions would be lifted, shops, cafes, restaurants would re-open. If hugging was allowed right now I think we would be hugging and dancing in the streets.

I knew it would be a good day when Dan Andrews wore his North Face jacket to the presser. Indeed, I think the tears started right then, so much has it come to symbolise good news.

The people of Melbourne have sacrificed a lot to get to zero; jobs lost, relationships put on hold, isolation from friends and families. In the midst of all this we have had to put up with the partisan media making us anxious and confusing the message and the less than helpful responses from politicians. It’s felt like us against the world.

2020 has been hard in so many way and the last few months of extreme lockdown in particular. Confined to my home for 23 hours a day, it’s been confronting, endless and often dull. I’ve barely left the house in months, there’s been nothing fun to look forward too and no relief from the misery of daily numbers both locally and overseas. From my couch it seems like the world is sinking further and further into a hellhole.

I’d definitely not recommend doing a large and complex tech project when working from home during a pandemic. Social media and Dan’s pressers have been both a blessing and a curse. Isolation has become normalised to the point where it’s going to take a long time to get back into the swing of things, whatever that is now anyway.

We lost over 800 people in this second wave of the virus, all who were loved and cared for. Mental health care services have reported huge increases particularly from younger people. So many people lost jobs this year, it’s going to be hard to recover. Like most people I’ve felt anxious about the future and frustrated wondering if this lockdown would ever end.

We have had to endure RWNJs calling for us to open up for the sake of the economy rather than stay closed for the sake of lives. That was some of the worst moments for me – as though older people should be sacrificed at the altar of money and productivity.

I have all the sympathy in the world for businesses, it must be so hard not know how long we will be closed for or whether your business will survive. But locking down and staying there until we got a handle on transmission was still the better option in terms of costs as this article from Liam Mannix explains.

I’ll be forever grateful that the Premier, for all his faults, was guided by science and data when making decisions. And while there have been Covidiots and maskholery, on the whole Victorians have show themselves to be a community that cares about each other and protecting our most vulnerable.

As many countries see a massive resurgence of the virus, they are looking towards Melbourne and what we achieved to prevent its spread in their community. Ireland has just reimposed another six week lockdown based on what we did here – I pray the strategy will work for them too.

For me, the most successful part of the lockdown hasn’t been the numbers falling but the way we have taken care of each other. If you were getting down, as I did on several occasions, friends both locally and interstate reached out.

As we looked at the unnerving pictures of the deserted streets of our city, Melbournians loved her more and mourned her empty streets. We talked about her as if an old friend and made plans for what we would do when we can get back to visit her.

And while there’s still more to be done, more outbreaks that could occur -covid-normal will be the new normal for a while. I think for the moment we can all collectively exhale the breath we have been holding for months.

Getting on the beers” is the unofficial motto of our state now. So raise your glasses and let’s propose a toast to our city and our state, for our outstanding commitment to each other and endurance during these difficult months.

Cheers.

Life Interrupted – 13

About two blog posts ago, I was going to stop writing this series on the pandemic – we were going back to normal and there’s only so much you can write about your cats or the existential dilemma brought on by the pandemic. And then the second wave hit.

Lockdown stage 4, has been extended by two weeks. There’s a furore because the Victorian Government is ruining the economy for everyone. When Melbourne went into lockdown again our PM said we are all Melbournians now, which lasted all of two minutes until he realised there was no political mileage to be got with unity.

Someone on twitter asked whether you felt Australian or Victorian. I definitely align more with my state than country, which is probably heightened because of the pandemic and watching Daniel Andrews front up every single day, doing his absolute best to get us through this.

The leadership in Australia feels like it’s not for me or about me. I’m not a conservative but it goes deeper than that. At some point the political leadership has taken a wrong turn, it seems like they don’t care about the most vulnerable in our community anymore; they would rather line their pockets with money from the fossil fuel and mining industries than take meaningful action on climate climate change and they have sold our souls for “safe” borders.

This week Scott Morrison said Australia was at risk of losing its humanity, which made me spit out my tea. It seems to me that we lost it along time ago, when we decided to arbitrarily lock up men, women and children in unending offshore detention. We lost it when we privatised nursing homes and understaffed them with poorly paid casual workers or when government after government failed to raise the Newstart allowance so people weren’t living in poverty. To name just a few…

Add to this the slogans, and obscuring and manipulation of facts to present the government in best light (not limited to the current government). And when journalists ask questions you get a bunch of pre-prepared talking points which they doggedly stick to regardless of what question is being asked.

It makes me deeply uncomfortable. It’s inauthentic, divisive and ultimately dehumanising. It’s like politicians are saying to us, you are unworthy of genuine interactions, we don’t trust you and your ability to understand that the world is complicated. It makes politicians less trust worthy; you forever feel like you are being manipulated and lied too.

Sure the Victorian government has failed badly – hotel quarantine, contact tracing and probably a few other things as well. Their roadmap out of lockdown is vague, if I was a business owner I’d be worried about the future. But as John Faine wrote in this piece we are more than just an economy.

It’s hard to feel anything other than fierce loyalty to my state, my city and its leadership right now. Even as the economics of the state look dire, it’s as if we we have become something more than that – like we have remembered that we are in fact a community that collectively rises or falls together.

Many people don’t like Daniel Andrews, his politics or his handling of the pandemic. Regardless of this, what is happening now is extraordinary leadership. In a world turned upside down, seeing Dan Andrew’s standing there in his North Face jacket is both comforting and the touchstone we all need right now. It’s like he is saying to us, the world is spinning out of control but I’m in here, I’m not going anywhere and it’s going to be ok.

It’s been six months since a global pandemic has been declared there have been 28 million infections and over 900000 deaths. By the end of October Melbourne will have endured the longest and harshest lockdown of any city in the world. But perhaps in taking away the trappings of our lives we have had the chance to come to the heart of who we are as a community. And maybe in a covid-19 normal world that gives us an advantage.

Melbourne’s motto is “Vires acquirit eundo”, which in English means “She gathers strength as she goes”. We are gathering strength now to come back and be bigger and brighter than ever.

Life interrupted – 12

On sunny days, I eat my lunch on the deck, listening to the birds and the sounds of the neighbourhood – a child’s cry, a delivery truck, the noise of someone else’s home being built. Midges gather and dance across the grass, the light glinting off them as rise and fall in the sunshine. The cats, always curious, sniff at my lunch, then stroll away to loll in the sun.

It’s winter and the grass is green though patchy after the intense early summer heat. I mowed it the other day, a pain to do but deeply satisfying once complete. My mowing technique needs some work, I generally do one bit, get bored and go do another bit. The effect is more drunken than uniform.

When I moved in two years ago, there was no grass or deck or even fences, which was kind of against the rules. Getting the fence built from our less than reputable contractor was six weeks of increasingly frantic phone calls and threats to consumer affairs. He left us with this…

Needless to say we got someone to fix it.

Building the house was both not much fun and completely exciting. The company started building before I had secured a loan from the bank(!!!), which led to some interesting days when I frantically scrambled to get approval. There was poor communication, some shoddy concreting, unexplained delays and an incident of sexual harassment, which led to one of their staff getting sacked. Even worse, I occasionally had to get my Dad to back me up because it always seemed to go better when a man was involved (sigh). 

Despite all this, my house is well built and for the most part exactly what I wanted. There’s a walk in pantry, a tin roof, and enough space for a library. I have a mix of antique and new furniture, with the requisite number of Ikea pieces required for a first home owner. My couches are comfy for an afternoon nap and my yellow hall stand makes me happy every time I see it. 

After living with family for most of my life, living on my own is both complete freedom and really hard. If I want to stay in my pyjamas all day and eat chips on the couch there is no one to stop me. But there’s also no one else to cook dinner or help with chores. And financially it’s all on you to pay the mortgage and bills. 

It’s not lonely though, at least I’ve not been, even during the seemingly endless lockdown. I’ve always liked my own company, or as I jokingly said to someone I find myself endless fascinating. In my last post I wrote about missing my people – my friends and family. But loneliness is something else; a disconnection from the world around you, not just people and that’s not me.

If anything, in second lockdown I’ve felt more connected to the turning of the earth; the slowly extending days, the changing light, the trees and the weather. In the before times, I would have missed these details – the light at four o’clock in the living room, the second time its snowed here in my lifetime, the double rainbows and the buds on trees as spring approaches.

I have found watching the seasons and weather, endlessly consoling. It’s different every day (and it’s Melbourne so sometimes more than that) but it has own rhythm and reasons for being that knows nothing of pandemics or even people.

Earth and nature exist outside of what humanity can control. We see examples all the time, cyclones, floods, fire and drought. But also the change of the seasons, the shower of rain and new growth of trees. Nature endures beyond me, which is both joyful and deeply comforting.

In the before times, I often bemoaned that I never had enough time at home to enjoy it. And now I’ve barely seen anything other than these four walls for months. With the world outside making my head spin and my heart hurt, at least here, I can close the doors against the hardness of the world. The frogs call, the flowers bloom and they give me hope and constancy that whatever happens next will be ok.

Life interrupted – 11

I was going to start this by saying how long we have been in stage four lockdown but honestly I can’t remember, could be three weeks or three months. Time and dates seem to have no meaning anymore. Instead I count time by Dan Andrew’s presser and the cats miaowing for their dinner.

I’ve been crying a lot this week. I’m ok, well, as well as you can be during a global pandemic but sometimes the requirement to be alright and stoic through massive upheaval in our lives is too much.

The issues this week were around my work. Before the global pandemic hit, we started working on a project to replace our institutional repository. It’s one of those projects that is meant to be a highlight of your career. I expected it to be challenging and rewarding but I did not expect to be doing it at home in my trackies, anxious about the state of the world and away from my team and my friends.

I’m coping with the workload and loving the many paths it has taken us down. I have no doubt the project will be successful, my team are resilient and always just finds a way. But it feels like we climbing Mount Everest we should taking a gentle walk by a stream – that is to say, it feels like it’s too much of a challenge when we should just being less hard things right now.

Working remotely has its good points but your work becomes really siloed. Online meetings are exhausting. I find engaging for anything longer than 30 minutes difficult, my mind wanders and I’ve developed some bad habits, which you would not do if you were face-to-face. .

Impromptu conversations both within and across teams don’t happen. Everything has be organised into meetings or phone calls. You can’t just talk to colleagues to get their input . It feels like this key ingredient is missing and it worries me.

Mostly, I’m just massive disappointed that I’m doing something so brilliant and exciting under these circumstances. When I got this job nearly a year ago it was one of the things I was most looking forward too, now it just feels like it’s nothing special and we won’t be able to celebrate this achievement.

There been lots of information about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how our response to the pandemic is just to have our most basic needs met right now – that is food, water and the safety of a home. With normal life so disrupted, fear and uncertainty everywhere, doing these basic things is stressful, the emotional energy needed to do a large and complex project takes a toll.

And you think you are ok because you’re resilient and you have everything you need and are safe at home. So you turn up to work, contribute and do your absolute best. But then all your emotions come out doing something as normal as meeting with a colleague and it makes no sense.

Other friends too are reporting that they frequently find themselves in tears. They also  say it makes them feel better – not so much for me because I’m not even sure what I’m crying about. It feels selfish when I’ve got everything I need to be upset because I miss my friends or not getting to do the special project in the way I wanted.

When I started at MPOW I was pretty crushed by previous library experience. But my colleagues embraced me and made me feel like I mattered. They are my support network for work stuff but more importantly just a great group of people who want to make the world a better place. 

So I miss them, and it hurts my heart that we aren’t having Monday first home owners lunch, or one of them isn’t dropping by my desk for coffee, or we aren’t all sitting together in the sun on fake grass mountain or gathering around a table in the lunch room, or talking marxist theory while eating snacks from a vending machine.

Early on in the pandemic people were publishing lots of articles about grief and loss like this one. And yes I do feel a sense of loss of normality, not seeing my friends, family, or doing things I like. Going out is also really stressful – mask up, keep your distance; the disconcerting experience of seeing empty streets, where once they were bustling.

It’s tough. I’m both ok and not ok in equal measure. And yes, there are a whole bunch of people who are worse off than me. But that does not make this any less hard, just makes me ache more for the world I can’t fix.

Life Interrupted – 10

We are back in lockdown. Six weeks; four reasons to leave your homes and wearing masks is now mandatory. There’s a judicial enquiry into how we got back here but from the outside it seems to be a mix of human frailty and doing things on the run.

This is just my life now and its alright. I have the sweet boys for company and cuddles, the frog orchestra plays on, magpies chortle and the daffodils have started to burst into bloom.

The virus is now affecting the most vulnerable in the community – that is both aged care residents, and people who work casually. I find this devastating. These workers are often from migrant backgrounds, doing low paid, insecure work. They are in a position where they feel they have to go to work because they have no other choice.

I worked casually for long periods in the last ten years. To pay my mortgage, I went to work sick because you don’t have sick leave (or holiday leave) and if you don’t work you don’t get paid. With casual work if you say no to shifts, it’s likely you will get offered less in the future.

In yesterday’s press conference Daniel Andrews said that prevalence of insecure work in society was a public health issue – he is right. The people who have gone to work have done so because they have no other options. – they need to pay rent, feed their families and ensure they have work when this is over.

The state government have taken steps to address this, which is a good start. But the pandemic has brought this issue into sharp focus, and a bigger conversation needs to be had about how we got here and what we need to ensure all people have access to paid sick leave in the future.

As a lover of history, I take great comfort in knowing people have survived through plagues and pandemics before. The Great Plague of London in 1665-1666 killed 15% of the population of London – around 100,000 people. With almost no medical knowledge and people literally dropping dead on the streets, it must have been terrifying.

In the book A Journal of a Plague Year, Daniel Defoe writes that one of the drivers of the spread was rich people coming to poor areas of London to view the situation. They then took the disease back to their families and communities. It mentions that if people just stayed at home the disease would not have spread so far.

Does that sound familiar? It’s comforting that in four-hundred years people haven’t changed that much. There were people not doing the right thing then and public health officials trying to minimise the impact. More importantly, they got through it and survived – just as we will.

Going out is incredibly stressful and wearing a mask is not much fun, even if I do have pretty ones. So far it’s a toss up between hyperventilating and trying not to throw up because my body thinks I can’t breathe. I can breathe but I have to consciously tell myself that I’m ok.

It’s just something I have to get used to, as do all of us for as long as we are told too. And except for a few people with valid reasons and a few dropkicks with none, most people are doing their part and wearing them.

It’s challenging, you get so many cues from a person’s expression that you can’t get now and you have to listen harder because everyone is a bit muffled. But at this point most people will do anything to help flatten the curve a second time, so we will all just do it.

Right now my thoughts are with those in leadership in the state, the health officials and frontline workers who must be exhausted. It’s with the people in retail having to wear masks all day, for healthcare workers and families grieving the loss of loved ones they can’t visit.

I’ve been writing these since March, watching the seasons come and go via my lounge room windows. It’s almost August and the darkest coldest part of winter. We will still be as the season change again. But spring always follows winter and new life starts to bloom.

Life interrupted – 9

By the time I publish this, we will know the results of the vote, though no one is keen to see them. The Jobs Protection Framework passed the union vote at my place of work, so we all now get to vote.

The choice is between pay cuts or job cuts – take a pay cut and save some jobs or don’t and lose more jobs. It’s a wicked choice, that puts us in the position of being executioner to our colleagues’ livelihoods regardless of what side wins. I feel sick when I think about it.

Although it’s a sliding scale, the impact of the cuts (if voted yes) will be greater on people who are part time or professional positions. This of course means women because God knows there’s almost no scenario where we don’t come out worse off.

The fact that we are in this position says volumes about the government and none of it good. In my head, I imagine them smugly fist bumping each other for doing a good job of bringing universities to heel. The fact they are punishing ordinary people – well it’s our fault for working there in the first place.

Wickedness is not a term you hear much these days – it’s too biblical even if it just means wilfully immoral. But this prayer by Sarah Bessey, got my thinking about it this week particularly in the context of world leaders.

The Prime Minister of Australia is a practicing Christian, meaning unlike other world leaders he could definitely tell you his favourite bible verse. I deeply appreciate having a PM that prays…

Many of the PM policies are not line with Jesus’s teachings. The treatment of refugees is the most obvious with its mountainish inhumanity; but there are others too, like the refusal (until the pandemic) to increase Newstart allowance, despite the fact it left people living in poverty. Even during the pandemic the Jobkeeper payments have been selectively applied and were changed three times to deliberately cut out universities.

While I am certainly not in a position to judge, nor am I suggesting the PM’s faith isn’t genuine and deeply held. But if you are a Christian and in charge of a country then I will hold you to a higher standard. And if your policies are punitive, not for the greater good and almost entirely directed towards keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, well it does make you wonder.

It’s been three months since lockdown started, restriction were eased and then tightened again because people think somehow it’s all over. It isn’t. We will be lucky if we don’t all end up in lockdown again.

We had a return plan to go back to the office but that will now need to be revised. I am not in a rush to return. Nothing will feel normal there while it’s not full with friends and colleagues and worse it will now be tainted by this wretched vote.

After a long period of contract and casual work, my current workplace was a dream; I felt valued, I had friends and interesting work. But the happiness I felt there will never be quite as shiny now. What has been lost in this sense will never be regained – I wonder if leaders at MPoW know this, the damage to goodwill and people’s feelings will be hard to recapture.

For days, I’ve been clouded in blackness. How can any of what’s happening be fair? It’s times like this that I find faith a stretch. I mean it makes way more sense if we are alone in the universe than a God who thinks any of this is ok.

I don’t know what happens next, where to even look for the light. I wanted the world to change and it has. But it’s almost definitely not for the better.

Life Interrupted – 8

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I’m not American or a Person of Colour but it would be hard to write another post without talking about what’s going on in the US. I hope this is a moment of real change, of breaking and reforming. I stand with the protestors, I feel their pain, #blacklivesmatter and I want to do whatever I can to make this better.

In Australia we have no less of an issue if you consider the appalling treatment for our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Since the 1991, over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody with no convictions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are by percentage of population are the most incarcerated people on earth. They have lower levels of numeracy and literacy, and lower life expectancy. It is a national disgrace.

As the above verse from the Beatitudes says, believers in Jesus are called to be peacemakers, which does mean keeping the peace (being neutral) but actively working towards peace. This means working to undo the systemic inequality that holds back People of Colour.

To do this we all need to our own work, as Sarah Bessey’s point out in her post A Kairos Moment, so we can be an allies to People of Colour. The “work” that is ours to do is informing myself, listening, being led by People of Colour, amplifying and centring their voices and experiences.

This work will be hard and needs deep reflection, asking ourselves and each others difficult questions, and facing truths that may not be palatable. But it is needed and necessary by everyone who sees the protests, who hears the cries of pain and wants something better.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life interrupted – 7

It’s not been a great week. Dominic Cummings was not sacked for breaking lockdown in the UK, another unarmed black man was killed in the US and lest you think Australia is so much better, Rio Tinto blew up 46000 years of history. And that’s just a few things, not counting the thousands of people who are still getting sick and dying from a deadly virus.

I am unequal to the task of commenting on world events other than to say my heartaches at the news. I also feel a bit disheartened because I was desperately hoping for something better, which seems a bit silly when it’s clearly more broken than ever.

In my city of Melbourne, restrictions have begun to ease. While this is great for businesses, it’ll make very little difference to me. I’m still working from home and remain circumspect about going out. People are doing their best, but boy have we already forgotten about our physical distancing practices.

Working from home remains hard – the flexibility is great but the mechanics of doing the work I do is better suited to an office. My team is working on a major project and I’m worried that we are going to miss something vital because of the difficulties working from home creates.

The sector I work in is in for a rough few years. The government actively cut us out of Jobkeeper, though there are some deep seated issues that even payments of this kind would not have addressed.

I have been attending a lot of union meetings lately, both official and not so much. The National Tertiary Education Union negotiated the National Jobs Protection Framework with Vice Chancellors and let’s just say it’s been an unmitigated disaster. Universities have refused to sign up and members of unions across the country have voted against the framework.

As a newish union member a lot of what happens at meetings goes right over my head. I have absolutely no idea what standing orders are and the first meeting I ever went to was just a lot of people (virtually) shouting at each other about conducting the meeting properly. I left early because it did not feel like it was my world.

I’ve persisted in going along because friends have been heavily involved in a grass roots campaign against the NJPF and I wanted to support them. While meetings have been fractious and I still mostly have no idea what’s going on, they have also been fascinating. From an objective standpoint watching the political machinations from both sides has been riveting.

At a meeting last week, a quorum of members overwhelmingly rejected the NJPF. Under union rules this should have been a binding decision. Despite this, the national executive is pressing ahead with another vote anyway, because you should totally keep asking the question if you don’t like the answer you got first time.

It’s quite alarming that they would take this path given their stated aims is to be a voice for members. Indeed it feels that they are just like all the other organisations that do whatever they want when it’s convenient to them, which is bitterly disappointing and not what I expected when I paid my (rather expensive) membership fees. For this reason, I am already considering resigning my membership.

I’ve been intending to write about libraries, but I find myself with almost nothing to say that has not already been said by others. Except that I have decided to not renew my membership to ALIA this year, for the exact same reasons I am reconsidering my union membership.

ALIA is a member based organisation that advocates and lobbies for libraries but not library workers, which seems a bit weird to me even though they are not a union. I have long been critical of them but it’s become even more apparent during the pandemic that they are an organisation that does not fit with what I want for my profession. 

Many libraries are reopening now and ALIA have put out a stack of guidelines about how to do this “safely”. Almost none of it mentions staff, outside considering shorter shifts and providing hand sanitiser.

This is simply not good enough.

Re-opening the library puts the emotional and physical health of library workers at risk, they essentially become frontline staff in a global pandemic. Under the circumstances, their safety and needs should be the first priority, not services or promoting the “library brand” – whatever the hell that is anyway.

I’m tired of the system winning and super rich people riding off into the sunset, while workers bear the costs. I don’t have the energy or will to continue support institutions that prop up the very broken status quo anymore and don’t stand up for their values.

I’m angry enough right now that I want to set the world on fire. And out of the ashes be part of making something new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life interrupted – 6

We are still here, and it’s not bad. Except for Zoom meetings, they can get in the bin. The rest I’m dealing with even if I’ve got a very naughty cat who keeps escaping and needs cuddles in the middle of the night. I’m not bored or lonely, although there are moments when I intensely miss people and how easy the world was before.

While we have been at home, autumn has turned the leaves to red, orange and yellow. This year, they seem to be more beautiful than usual, as though they are saying “see, here’s what we can do without you”. They are blowing away now as the winds from south are heavier and a little bit more chilly. Winter will soon be here.

Autumn always makes me think of John Keat’s Ode to Autumn. There’s a joyfulness and urgency about the poem as though all the good things in life will be no more once winter comes. And I’ve been thinking a lot about ripening, harvesting and letting die away what no longer serves, for obvious reasons.

I’m finding poetry has the vibe for where I’m at right now. Within those perfectly formed verses, they express the full range of human experience. Its hugely comforting to know that other people have the same feelings, survived terrible times and thrived in a new world.

They have also helped in clarifying my thoughts about the multiple ways the world was a bit stuffed in pre-pandemic life. I could write a long list but poets Sonya Renee Taylor and Tom Foolery Probably have done it for me.

Of course not everything was bad, there was heaps of stuff that was great. And I was a happy functioning adult, with a good life and everything I needed. But life was becoming more and more constricted, like a tie being pulled tighter and tighter until you can’t breathe.

There was always so much to do – housework, job, church, garden, keep up with professional literature, meet friends, exercise, eat well, contribute to society and on and on. Life began to seem like a series of chores; weekends left me feeling overwhelmed with the all jobs I needed to get done, enjoyable things often lost their shine. I was tired all the time, regularly needing two hour naps on the weekend to even function.

I don’t want to go back to that life.

Nor the world that was full of greed and lobbyists; where ideology was more important than science, where we lock up refugees and don’t support the most vulnerable in our community. That messed up world where we were divided and didn’t realise we all needed each other.

I’ve spent a lot of the thinking about what I want my post-pandemic life to look like. It’s not a world of an hour plus twice daily commutes, or the rigidity of a 9-5 life. In my new world, there’s time to make a pot of tea in the mornings, lie on my lawn in the sun and contemplate the world.

But in a larger sense, for the world to be different, it means I need to be different too. You need to be in the world, the way you want the world to be. Though I’m just one person in six billion, collectively we are the world and all our choices ripple outwards.

Being different, will require deep and perhaps painful examination of choices, thinking and actions, though it’s not about blame or guilt. It comes from a place of acceptance that as a human you are flawed, that you may have a privilege denied others and trying to understand that and yourself, so you can do better. 

It’s been eight weeks since I’ve been in isolation and I’m not yet ready to return to the world. I feel like the world isn’t ready yet to return to the world. We need more time as John Keats writes to…

“fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more”

That is to say – we need more time to prepare the ground for something new.