Okay, I know … technically the “lockdown” hasn’t started yet. At least not in South Africa. That only kicks in for real tomorrow at midnight. Even so, since we haven’t seen our students since early March, since I’ve basically been cocooned at home since March 10th, and since we transitioned to “online learning” on the 16th, my world has felt relatively ‘locked down’ for awhile now. So, even though South Africa is in its early days of COVID-19 crazy, the mental/emotional schooling for me started awhile ago.
LESSON # 1: It’s hard to hide when you can’t run.
Life has slowed waaaaay down. As of last week, there is no place I HAVE to be. No people I HAVE to see. No school, no church, no birthdays or baby showers, no pottery class, no gym, no dinners with friends. I do have jobs to do, but most of them can be done in my pj’s and/or sitting in front of my computer. It doesn’t take much forward motion to water the lawn, make a meal, wash the dishes, write up lesson plans, record a few “how to” video tutorials for kids, respond to emails, and comment on student work that has been posted so far. The stillness is physical: for all of these things, I am here … in one place.
There is a kind of unmasking that has happened by being forced to “dwell” in the place that I live. It is revealing to me all the things that I have gotten good at ignoring in my fast and far-flung life. It’s harder here to hide from myself. In the stillness of being, I sense more sharply my bad habits, my lack of discipline, my anxiety. Perhaps it’s blindingly obvious that “wherever you go, there you are,” but when I’m racing through my days and life is full-speed-ahead, I can forget the person in me. Strange to say, I can forget myself. But I do. And self-confrontation in the stillness is not comfortable.
It’s also harder to hide from the problems. Physical problems. Like wobbly faucets in the kitchen sink. It was a low priority problem back when 40% of my day and 80% of my meals happened outside of my house. Under normal circumstances, I barely make enough dishes to warrant using the kitchen sink more than three times a week. (Shameful, I know.) NOW, however, I’m washing dishes two to three times a day! My pots and pans haven’t seen this much action since my mom was here for Christmas. Of course this also means that, not only is the faucet problem more relevant, it’s also getting worse. I want to close my eyes and wish really hard for the sink to be fixed, but it’s not happening. I need a plumber. Truth is, I have needed a plumber for months, but when I hide in a busy life, I can ignore a problem for a really, really long time. (For the record, I did try to fix it myself last week. I just don’t have the right tool and don’t now know what the right tool would be for that tiny space.)
So what do you do when the powers-that-be order you to stay home and dwell in your space for longer than you ever thought you could? Confront the life you have been ignoring? One step at a time. First bake some zucchini bread so that you’re ready when the soul says, “Feed me!” Spend an hour or two in the hammock listening to trees and birds. Then call a plumber. Lockdown is still 36 hours away. There’s still time to fix things.