Level 2 Blues

Today is Sunday May 17th. Kia ora katoa

Well, it’s official. Many folk are reluctant to embrace their new “freedom”.

On Friday we went to the Johnsonville Shopping Centre, which was quite busy. On the radio someone was griping that the budget hadn’t given the group they represented enough funds. I guess I would regard that as par for the course. I then joked that the mental health of recluses should be considered too. In addition to “lockdown blues” and people going stir-crazy, which obviously had to be taken seriously, we should now consider the real issue of some loners finding it very hard to be sociable again, and to contend with all the everyday grievances, such as advertising, travel brochures, drinking, over-charging for walking in the bush, traffic noise, going to shopping malls, consumerism, over-the-top lavish expenditure, and suchlike – re-joining the “rat race”. While there is joy and relief at there being no new coronavirus cases, there is real grief at some aspects of “everyday life” coming back into play.

I think many of us hoped, and still hope, that the future will be different: that our government will seize this moment to say less excess, everyone has the right to have a safe and warm home and enough to eat, with access to health care; that we all respect this planet and this country and want it to be a safe place for our children and grandchildren, where the water is safe to drink, and there is less reliance on dairy farming, and more on organic farming, and use of natural products; that all schools should be successful, including the one down the road, whatever that school may be. Parents’ voices have a right to be heard!

I gather that some overseas companies see New Zealand as an opportunity for doing business. Let’s hope that New Zealand values are enforced: that all staff members are paid a living wage, that all staff are fairly and reasonably treated, that staff cannot be fired at will, that the environment is reasonably treated, that we are not American or Australian and we don’t have to rush about all the time. We have learnt to slow down and enjoy birdsong; to be grateful that we live in a peaceful society, that our government wants to protect us: it seems that as in many places there is much good here, and an evil element too. Let us hope that good and true kindness prevails. Why do I say this? Many claim to be kind, that kindness is really important, yet display some very unkind acts. This I find strange and disturbing. While I may not agree with certain views, I believe all human life is a gift, and all lives matter.  Old people matter. Coloured people matter. Gay people matter. All people are “regular folk”.

So who is now feeling blue? From today’s Sunday Star Times, Alison Mau writes “Apparently lock-down release anxiety is actually a thing, which is good to know, because I have it”. She’s not alone.  A mother has written about the relief of not having (choosing?) to ferry several children round to their various after-school activities.  This can be a real tie, as I know from experience. My own children did many activities, mostly by choice, which I was anxious to encourage – I don’t regret for one moment their involvement in music (two instruments!), singing, orchestras, chamber groups, and playing sport. If they could walk to an activity, then so much the better. I confess I didn’t go to all their sports games, but I went to their music activities wherever possible. Many of these enriching activities would not have been possible during the recent lockdown.

We also enjoyed summer breaks, and I hope my children remember the various picnics, hikes, and exploring sessions we enjoyed. My preference was to find a stream, with some shade, so that the location would cater for different age groups, and not be too hot and sunny for whoever was the baby. Those were the days! But music enriched our lives. I joked that we would have a quartet, if they were all at home at once, which became unusual.

Others have found the enforced seclusion not so bad, including some family members; while we have all missed our families, it has been good to have video calls sometimes. Two sons are overseas, anyway, so we don’t see much of them. While I have missed some foods, you can get used to going without, and we have watched some great movies on our TV and read some great books. People I know have read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, or Hilary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light”, while I have been reading “Stalingrad” (not the Antony Beevor one, the Vasily Grossman one, translated from the Russian). It’s a great book, I thoroughly recommend it. It has helpful guides at the back like a key to the confusing Russian names, maps, and a historical timeline.

Others like comedian Trevor Noah have found that this restful period suited them.  Many have found a certain release in not needing to get ones’ hair done, or wear makeup, or buy new clothes. Those of us fortunate enough to enjoy the peace and quiet of course rejoice in the fact that we have enough food to eat, the weather has been kind here, we don’t live in crowded conditions, or in institutions, and we’re not desperate financially. Not being ill is a blessing, too. This morning I listened to Michael Moore’s podcast talking to Roger Waters (from Pink Floyd), and he is finding confinement quite all right with him. What an interesting podcast! But I digress.

So, kicking and screaming, or quietly tut-tutting under our breath, we re-join the rest of the human race, stuck here in Aotearoa – frankly, there’s nowhere I’d rather be, even if I have to put up with more planes going overhead now. At least we can be free from fear, or fear of coronavirus, anyway. There is a great deal to be thankful for.

My thoughts for Sunday. No stats. Nga mihi nui.

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