Melbourne will soon come out of a very restrictive 12 weeks of covid ‘lockdown’.  As I begin to wonder what ‘escaping’ to a ‘new normal’ life might look like, I’ve realised there have been many personal joys during this period, despite the restrictions.  I’ve wondered whether I will be able to hang on to or maintain these joys, or will they be lost in the ‘new normal’.

Some Personal Joys

I acknowledge first that I have been very lucky during this period.  I have a loving partner to share the pain with.  I don’t have to worry about money.  I have a large house with a big garden and green space.  I have a beautiful area to exercise in.  I have not lost my job.  I have lots of friends, all visually accessible by Facetime.  I have good technology assets, and (almost) adequate skills to access the vast available technological array.  We’ve been able to continue grandchild minding and some consequent personal family contact.  And, perhaps most important of all, I’m healthy.  So I start from a very privileged position. The

Everyone’s personal experience will be different, but I suspect each person has actually has found some unexpected joys during this period.  For me, they include:

  • Enjoying online activities – bridge, choir, webinars, podcasts.

Online bridge with good friends (here and overseas!) has been an excellent substitute for weekly bridge club sessions.  It’s a miracle that the choir has managed to engage its large community twice- weekly by adapting technologically, but it has and done it amazingly well.

Previously I had no time for daytime webinars (mainly using the new Zoom tech) or podcasts.  I was too ‘busy’.  Now I’ve listened to people and ideas I would not have known existed.  And I can now tap into this vast ideas reservoir, should I need it more in the future.

  • Accessing Netflix, Stan and Spotify for entertainment.

With no live theatre, cinema or music to attend, home electronic entertainment became important.  While ABC and SBS still provide significant value, some programs on Netflix and Stan have been valuable additions to my evening enjoyment (and I’ve had a lot of evenings to fill!) while Spotify helps my morning exercises.

  • Binge-watching major sporting events I would not normally ‘allow’ myself to watch.

I’ve been watching 2-5 hours of sport daily!  But these are events I’d always have loved to watch, but rarely had the time.  NBA basketball finals, US Open tennis, Tour de France, netball (yes, really!), rugby league (yes really since they changed the rules) and football (dropping down the list, due to the crazy and confused rules) have all been attractive and are mostly one-offs.  I hope I don’t find myself doing this once we are ‘free’, but it has been a wonderful opportunity to splurge on something I love.

  • Helping the local community.

Random acts of kindness – making cordial and cake, offering mulch, starting a street library for neighbours and looking after their children – have contributed to a closer street neighbourhood.  I‘ve also volunteered my brain to two large organisations and managed to assist both in a variety of tasks important to them.  I’ve found engaging my brain really gives me pleasure.

  • Appreciating the daily changes in the natural world.

Not travelling almost anywhere for 6 months is a new experience.  So I’ve seen and greatly enjoyed  – daily – the seasonal garden changes from autumn, winter and now spring.  Our garden also acts as part of a large suburban aviary, as many bird types swoop in for food, drink, a bath, a forage or a rest.  I also enjoy all the local flowers on exercise walks…and some overhanging or neglected ones seem to fall into my carry bag, bringing special extra joy.

  • Having time to enjoy daily activities/events.

With a limited daily schedule, each activity takes on extra importance.  Exercises, a Zoom, a knock on the door, a phone call are all major events now.  It’s surprising how much joy each of these can bring.  Even supermarket shopping is new entertainment (I don’t think this will last!). 

  • Falling deeper in love with my partner.

Spending much more time close together and already being deeply in love, this has been a surprise, after almost 50 years together.  But I appreciate her qualities even more and we are more considerate of each other.  As the ‘end’ for us draws closer, we appreciate how lucky we are to still have each other.

Which Joys Will I Take into the ‘New Normal’?

Technology skills and access will stay, along with a stronger local community.  A slower pace and enjoyment of ‘local’ will be there, if I want it.  But I do feel I have much unused energy in lockdown, so I’m sure there will be more on my schedule in any ‘new normal’.  The trick will be to avoid being overwhelmed by ‘busyness’, so that joy can be gained from everything I decide to do.  I’ve still got plenty of ‘free’ time to think about that!