One thing good about Martha’s Vineyard being seasonal is that every year when the tourist season ends and everyone goes home, the island has a chance to heal from the summer onslaught. ~ Susan Branch
In this time of lockdown or Movement Control Order, it is all too easy to focus on the dark and the negative. On the mounting death toll. On the risks. On the endless what-if’s. I’ve lived too much of my life under the shadow of fear and I won’t go there now. Nonetheless, I’m not buying into the bliss of intentional ignorance either. That’s irresponsible. We must do what we must to be safe and to keep others safe too.
It is a time of genuine worry and fear. But there’s something else too. Something beautiful out of all this pain and uncertainty.
It is a time of healing
We need to heal from our dependency on the heady brew of the conveniences of daily life. We need to heal from takeaways, home deliveries and online shopping, just to name a few. They have made things so easy for us, and many of us have come to depend quite a bit on such services. And that’s fine.
But sometimes, we take our dependency too far. We make excuses to use these services to avoid going out even when it’s safe to do so. We deprive ourselves of a good walk in the sun. We choose to instead stare and pin pictures of spring blooms instead of stepping out and feasting on the many surprises which surround us. We send each other online bouquets or use florist services instead of making up a small posy of blooms from our own little plots.
When we return home tired from work, the takeaway beckons enticingly, and we tell ourselves we need a break, that a meal prepared from scratch, even a simple one, is too much of trouble. It’s fine when it’s an occasional option, but sometimes, we let ourselves go and make it a habit, and too soon, it becomes something we cannot do without.
In my little town where we are free from at least the stress of traffic and long lines, many of my townspeople have come to overly rely on food services and food vendors for their daily meals. Eating out is not a luxury here. From the wealthiest to the poorest, almost everyone either dines out or sends out for food. On the rare occasion that people cook, there’s again that heavy reliance on ready made dips and marinades.
They want Grandma’s cooking but someone’s got to do all the heavy lifting for them.
Over time, little by little, we begin to lose all that was bequeathed to us from generations before. We either forgo gardens or we procure the services of professional gardeners. We search out restaurants and cafés for the warm memories of old kitchens and food cooked with love. We don’t trouble ourselves cooking for our kids and family. We prefer to work than to return home to the whining and groaning of our kids. We hire home tutors and use that as an excuse to remain longer at work because that’s so much easier on our tempers than to struggle with our children over homework and exam preps.
But with a lockdown, with restricted movement, all our previous refuges have to be vacated. We can’t go to work. Restrictions take away the luxury of some of the services that have become an unhealthy staple in our lives. It’s a terrible time. But even with Stay At Home orders, life still needs to go on. We need to make important financial decisions. But kids need to learn too. Family needs to be fed. House needs to be cleaned. Other needs need to be met as well. But no one’s there any more to do it for us.
We’re on our own
It can be daunting, it can be frustrating. Some days can be hour after hour of mistake after mistake. But times like this can also be beautiful. Just like that beautiful island that benefitted from tourist dollars needs the rest of the year to heal from the effects of tourism, we too need this downtime to heal from certain conveniences that might have made life easier but also eroded life of value.
We heal by going back to basics. We heal by simplicity. We heal by doing things ourselves as opposed to always depending on someone else.
We heal by taking the time to do things. We heal by stepping back from rush and speed and instead, begin to savour moments.
We’ve been given a gift. Let’s take it. Let’s go home to heal.