What I’ve learned during lockdown.
How to start. Let’s start at the beginning. A suspenseful, exciting, anticipation-filled day is what I can remember feeling on the 10th of March, the debut day our previous Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, came on to the tv and shockingly announced a full, level 5, lockdown on the whole country to be placed with immediate effect. To be quite frank, I was ecstatic, as were many of my close friends and classmates. It felt like the time when schools closed for one day because of Storm Ophelia. It was “brilliant”. Two weeks of freedom, vacation, movies, late nights, video games, and yes (cough, cough) some studying seeing that I was indeed still en route to take my Junior Certificate exams. So in hindsight, life seemed great in those two weeks. In all honesty, it felt like a vacation. But looking back on it now, it seems like I had got a bit ahead of myself in thinking that…
Where, in the world, are we now?
Four..? Five? Six, seven weeks now? In all honesty, I have absolutely no clue how long it’s been, how many weeks it has been of full lockdown. There’s a myriad of strange and unprecedented feelings that I have never experienced before that keep recurring in spontaneous jolts. It seems futile to talk about “how it’s been” isolated inside these four walls when everyone else has also. There is not much you can do in finite space, but most importantly with finite people around you. That’s one thing I’ve learned from the whole pandemic, but more on that later. For now I just want to pour out all that I am thinking about right now onto this Google Doc. It feels like my body isn’t the only thing that’s been trapped inside these four walls, but specifically my mind. Everytime I go for a walk outside, or a run, or on a cycle, or anything outside really, I still feel trapped or shy of the outside world. I feel like my head’s become so used to such limited company and such limited space to essentially live, that all of a sudden my world’s become a lot more independent and for all intents and purposes, lonesome. But, and a big but at that, with all that said, I believe that the pandemic has shaped me into a more improved version of who I used to be.
So let’s begin.
Lesson No. 1 : The importance of other people
The first lockdown, as I mentioned earlier, was fantastic. I was hyper and floating graciously on cloud 9. I was attending my classes, doing my work, texting my friends, adoring the idea of not having to get up, get ready to go out for school, wear my suffocating uniform, always trying to find a niche in the luas to get on with the plethora of other people. The detrimental experience of being glued to the inside of your abode, with a very limited amount of not only things you can do, but people you can see, had not yet sunken into my cute but naive mind. The simple but true fact that human beings need other human beings to survive, had not yet ever come to my attention. Now, thank God that I have my family surrounding me, each of us helping each other out, each and every day through our same struggle, but I especially break at the thought of someone else suffering on their own. I already struggle enough with the lack of seeing my close friends but I also miss just seeing people living life. So in summary, the first lesson that the lockdown has taught me is that life without others isn’t really life at all, and as they say, “You never miss something until it’s gone”, could not be any truer now.
Lesson No. 2 : Growing as a person
Thinking back on it now, before the whole world went into pandemonium and absolute chaos, back when my worries consisted of getting marks for being late to school, being caught with chewing gum by a teacher, etc, I was such a naive and little young boy. I was completely naive, full stop. Living life as if everything was pitch perfect and without trouble. Looking back on how I was, I am oh so grateful for how the lockdown has shaped me, as a person. I believe the lockdown has really carved me into a better and more considerate person, who now has realized that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve learned to have a better understanding that the world, while heavenly beautiful from the breathing and gorgeous rainforests to the exotic and delicate sandy coasts, filled with all diverse types of organisms and vibrant plantlife, and producing an endless amount of opportunities right at our fingertips to live and thrive in our short lives, this very eutopia that we inhabit is being completely and utterly destroyed by human beings. They say it is what it is, but I disagree. It is what it is, until it was what it was, and we need to avenge our faults and find ways to reduce the damage that we are doing to our planet. But, for now, this blog is not about that, yet, so back to the main topic of Covid improving me as a person. Covid has, single- handedly, enhanced my emotions, feelings, awareness, and knowledge of many things but, most importantly, what I want to do for the short remainder of my impermanent life here on Earth. Covid has awoken me to live my life with meaning and with intent and to do what I want to do, immediately.
Lesson No. 3 : Be grateful to have a glass and look at the positives
Covid-19 has taught me a heck of a lot and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is actually from a book that I read, during lockdown (of course), called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by a brilliant author named Charlie Mackesy. The book is a heartwarming adventure about, evidently, a young boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse, and of their journey together. In this book there is a lovely moment of dialogue between the mole and the boy, that I would really like to share with you as what they say has really stuck with me all through this quarantine.“Is your glass half empty or half full?” asked the mole. “I think I’m grateful to have a glass.” said the boy. Always being grateful for what you have is one of the most important if not the most important quality of being a human being. If you are grateful for what you have you start to see the beauty in everything. You turn negatives into positives, no matter how dire your situation is. The tiny, miniscule things that you neglect can turn into some of the most significant and most important things, which are all found out when you are grateful. How I’ve seen this pandemic is that yeah, not seeing my friends is tough, sitting around procrastinating isn’t a nice feeling either, but I have my family with me, I am residing inside my home with heating, hot water, food, clothing on me, electricity, entertainment, means of communication, health, all things that can sometimes be passed as trivial but that so many other people lack. And you know what, thank God for all this. So indeed, quarantine has made me a lot more appreciative and grateful for what I have. And while we all have our own struggles, and this should not be in any way neglected of course, being grateful for the little things helps you see the brighter side of the most dire situations.
My advice and final thoughts
A lot has been said on when we’ll all be back in school,when we go back to how things were, when we go back to our “normal” lives. But, in my opinion, along with all that the pandemic has taught me, the way we used to live our “normal” lives was not only in a very ungrateful way, but we used to (but still do) live our lives in an unsustainable, unrelenting, and destructive way, forgetting that the most important factor in our lives is being human. Before the whole pandemic, I believe the world has lost some of its humanity, and through this huge hiatus in common life, hope, belief, and what it means to be human can and has sparked back into our species. We have all taken the prolonged time off for ourselves our thoughts, and through that, I believe, we not only have all learned so much about ourselves, but about what the most important things in life are for all of us. I know that I’ve learned. A lot. I’ve learned that the importance of mental health is critical and vital, and is more important than anything, and I’ve learned ways to cope also with mental issues. This quarantine has been detrimental for all of us, but in my belief, there has never been a more suitable time to use this expression,
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
By Elliott Looney
Transition Year student
De La Salle College Churchtown