My newsletter at the start of March was about slowing down, less is more. I doubt many of us (certainly in the UK and US anyway) knew back then what was in store for us!
We are a few weeks into lockdown now and settling into a new and very different routine and reality.
We have been gifted this incredible opportunity.
Suddenly, many of us find ourselves with time on our hands.
Yet still, we feel the need to make out we’re busy. To justify how we spend our time. Carry on as normal, as if things were still ‘normal’. Filling our time, because that is what time is for… to be filled.
Usually, that would involve filling our time with things that earn us money or spending money, because we equate time with money… ‘Time is money’.
Never before have we experienced something like this.
Our worlds, the lives we have chosen have been put on pause. Forced by circumstance to stop scurrying around.
We’re not getting in our cars, sitting in traffic, sitting in offices, getting back in our cars and driving to activities. Many of the things we used to fill our time with have stopped.
Inevitably, people are restless with the ongoing uncertainty. Our telephone, Zoom, Skype and Social Media conversations are turning to “what we’ll do when things get back to normal”.
But, which bits of normal do we really want back?
This is a unique situation – akin to standing at a pick ‘n mix counter, we can scoop out only the tasty treats we want and leave the rest behind.
We have a choice to do things differently.
All those jobs we were told by our bosses we couldn’t do at home, we have proved can be done remotely.
Those hours spent on trains or motorways travelling to meetings have proven themselves unnecessary.
Indeed, many people who have been furloughed will be questioning what the point of their jobs was in the first place!
Doing needless work for the sake of being busy and paying the bills. Feeding the capitalist machine.
Scurrying around a corporate treadmill until we retire and society gives us permission to enjoy our lives, when we are at our frailest and most vulnerable. How does that make any sense?
How many of us will return to work, realising that our jobs are pretty pointless?
I can’t help but wonder what the point of some of my work is.
This pause is a great gift in so many ways.
Waking up, opening a window and smelling fresher air than I’ve ever experienced anywhere in the UK.
It’s so quiet. I hear so many birds… until the neighbours fire up their power tools – refusing to pause, keeping themselves busy!
‘Busy’ can be such a destructive concept, wearing busy-ness like a badge of honour.
An addiction to normalcy
I’ve seen some interesting content shared online about a return to normalcy after this great pause.
Businesses will be ramping up their advertising and sales campaigns to make up for the time/money they’ve lost. They will feed our craving for ‘normal’ activities and ‘new things’ to make our lives happy and predictable once again. It’s like an enabler feeding an addict what they crave. Prepare to be bombarded with advertising messages selling us normalcy again.
I like this Medium piece on the ultimate gaslighting.
A New Next Normal
It’s up to us to decide whether we want to buy into this, or choose to change.
Being at home is making many of us realise we don’t need so much ‘stuff’.
Even the food we eat: we can get the basics, we don’t need all the fancy supermarket added value crap. Meat (if you eat it), veg, a few staples and the odd luxury – (chocolate and wine in our house!)
Flour is in short supply because so many of us are discovering how to bake again.
- The simple pleasure of taking time to prepare a meal from scratch
- A slower more mindful existence
What’s Really Important?
We are starting to realise what really matters.
I enjoyed this article in The Guardian that wellbeing is not individual but social.
“There is a sense that, with the world having ground to a halt, our fantasies are finally taking flight.”
My favourite quote.
Not to play down the seriousness and traumatic nature of this current crisis, but to consider some of the fundamental shifts in how we treat each other, now in a crisis, and ongoing into the future.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. If we really want the world to emerge stronger, better and healthier on the other side of all this we can’t go back to what we were doing before. Continuing to live our lives constantly consuming and expanding, swallowing up resources and converting them into choking mounds of waste, will only exasperate the massive social, cultural and economic challenges we’ve been struggling with.
Realising that the job we spend so much time doing and being consumed by doesn’t really matter.
For my part, many of my friends or family really know or care what I do, as long as I can somehow meet their expectations of justifying myself as ‘busy’ and ‘earning money’.
“At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it. “
What do you want from the next new normal?
‘The things I want to be the new normal after lockdown’ is a talking point so it also makes a good writing prompt.
Read my response to this writing prompt here:
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