La in Lockdown: I Sat on the Cat

It is no surprise that the cataclysmic shock of the Covid19 epidemic has produced an avalanche of personal stories during this bizarre and challenging time. And how fascinating and diverse are these "chronicles", some very moving, some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, some amusing, some uplifting, some tragic. All human life is here, and I can fully understand the need of many to tell their stories, and of others to hear them.

Am I alone in having no tales to tell? I am indeed very lucky not to have an experience of loss or deprivation to relate, but surely I can come up with some earth-shattering insights, or at least a poem, or gentle pearl of wisdom, even a smug account of a sparklingly clean and tidy house, with everything neatly in its place. No. There has been no Zen makeover here. And certainly there is no vigourously exercising, beautifully trim and energetic new me.

In my previous life, before the lockdown, there was no shortage of adventures, and misadventures, to regale friends with. I could not stir out of the house without finding myself inadvertently in some odd situation, some weird happening, even on the most routine of outings. I thought this was entirely normal, until I heard one friend remark to another, "Whatever Christine does, wherever she goes, there is always a tale to tell." But that is the whole point. Since staying at home in strict isolation, I have been nowhere, seen no-one, so there is nothing to tell, nothing to awaken my sense of the ridiculous, except the situation itself.

I live alone, with just my cat, Leo, for company. Of course, he is a great character, providing excellent entertainment, and we enjoy long and fascinating conversations. But reporting his droll deeds and witty cat repartee to others would, I fear, be akin to doting parents reporting lovingly the adorable antics of their offspring! You know the sort of thing: "You'll never guess what little Johnny got up to in the park today." To which one always wants to reply, "No, and I don't think we wish to." So, no material there.

It is true that there are still things happening in my life, but they tend to be along the lines of the boiler misbehaving, or my triumph in at last learning how to use the washing machine. Mini-dramas too, as when I sat on the cat. Purely accidentally, of course!

But I suspect that I am not alone in discovering that there are quiet and unexpected joys to be found in the little, seemingly ordinary experiences of daily life, the every day, routine trivialities which are not so trivial if there is time to pause and appreciate them. The first cup of coffee in the morning tastes so delicious when one's mind is not full of the day ahead. Likewise, the welcome evening cocktail, to be savoured without preoccupations of the day past. Furthermore, this eagerly anticipated liquid lifting of the spirits can appear meticulously at the appointed hour, (mine is 6 pm) every day, now that one is always at home. And, in lieu of sadly absent friends to share the cocktail hour, I gaze out of my window and raise my glass to my dear companions of this strange life of isolation, the wise and welcoming trees in the woodland glade opposite. I delight in the light playing on the leaves, and marvel at the variety of effects, the brilliance, the softness.

Those unexpected beams of light in the darkness reassure me, just for an instant, that all is well.

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light"
- Aristotle