(Image from Google images)
When I started writing this yesterday here in South Africa, I had been in lockdown since 27 March, with no explanation of why my freedom is still being curtailed. Yesterday was one of the worst for me in the last 48 days. During the course of the day, I had been cycling through mood swings faster than Bruce Fordyce could run the hills during Comrades Marathon. And in the evening I found myself feeling vulnerable and emotional. A very strange and in some ways an unnerving day for me. The day was made worse by the fact that there is STILL no end in sight to the irrationality of this lockdown that no one seems to be willing to explain to me in simple terms. It seems that everyone on (anti-) social media is an expert of how, when and if this lockdown will end. And by extension should it end or should it remain indefinitely? News outlets, both print and on TV continue to utilize words like ‘shocking’, frightening’ and even ‘no end is in sight’.
If the bookmakers are taking bets as to when this might all be over, then it seems that June, September and October are the front runners. Even January 2021 has already been mentioned.
I am one of those that have food on my table, a roof over my head and a semblance of a job left. Am I therefore seen as privileged? It is not even a racial issue any longer as there are those of every colour who are suffering. But those who want to call “FOUL” will do so no matter what the real circumstances are.
Therefore, it is time to climb on my trusty steed once more and take a tilt at the looming crisis that is causing me to become more despondent with every passing day. In my opinion, there are some questions that I am trying to find answers to and I am failing dismally. The most pressing one being why are we still in lockdown after 48 days with no convincing explanation?
Did you know? The practice of quarantine, as we know it, began during the 14th century in an effort to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics. Ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing. This practice, called quarantine, was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which mean 40 days.
It has been interesting to see who has stayed in contact with me during the past 48 days. People that I least expected have sent messages or voice notes. And those that I thought would, have not. I am not being judgemental as each of us has his/her own demons to deal with in these strange days. Will I find my soul tribe? I am not certain about a whole tribe but some family members have shown themselves to be more than supportive. I am now living by the mantra, “If I don’t expect, then I will not be disappointed”.
But will it? Will I allow it to become a memory? Will I ever hug a friend or shake the hand of a stranger when being introduced? I have found that when I have had to interact with people face-to-face, I tend to come home with a headache and a strange feeling of disengagement that stays with me for hours. Is this the new ‘normal’? Was what I had prior to March 27th ‘normal’? Can anyone answer that question for me?
My year planner is empty with only birthdays and cancelled trips highlighted. As it is on my pinboard and I see it every day it is a sad testament to how I feel currently. This particular song was playing as I turned onto a dirt road on my penultimate pre-lockdown trip. And listening to an international radio station (181.1 Kicking Country) as I write this is not really helpful, but the genre (country) is my go-to music. Little did I realize that when I returned from this particular trip there would only be one more that I would be able to complete before being tricked into believing that this lockdown was actually in my best interests.
I want to be a fly on the wall when the various Ministers have their meetings. Do they have my best interests at heart? My short answer is “I don’t believe that they do”. I don’t want to allude to the various alleged incidents of police brutality or the theft of food parcels or the control of TV news broadcasts as I have no real proven information on any of those. The vitriol that emerges on Facebook at any of these alleged cases merely reinforces my feeling of despair bordering on depression.
But, even though I ask questions, there are no answers forthcoming or the response is “It’s classified”! I feel like I am being treated like a petulant child who does not realize that this is good for me and I should accept without challenges. As a child, I was told by my mother that “Because” is an entire sentence. If she did not have a rational answer as to why I needed to do something then “Because” was her stock answer. And I feel that I am being treated like that child again! I can shout, whine and cry and still, I am not being listened to or answered.
Even the Sickle Bush that inflicts untold damage on the tires of game drive vehicles, has beautiful flowers that I marvel at. It gives this hardy, invasive plant a layer of beauty that many people do not get to see. Is there beauty lurking somewhere in this lockdown? I so wanted to believe that, yet I fear that our default position as humans is ‘insular and selfish’.
I am of the opinion that the current lockdown relates to the 5 stages of grief (5 levels of lockdown? Coincidence? I don’t think so) that Elisabeth Kubler Ross wrote about in 1969.
Denial: I did not believe that the Pandemic would reach South Africa. In all the major disaster movies, the bad things tend to only happen in the Northern Hemisphere. I was wrong.
Anger: I was forced to be placed in a situation over which I have no control. In the beginning, I stood firmly behind our President and his reasons for lockdown. However, those feelings of trust are starting to dissipate as I believe that I have been lied to.
Bargaining: Unlike when a loved one takes ill with a terminal illness, and we bargain with a higher power to take on their illness in return for whatever we can offer, in this instance, I have nothing to bargain with and therefore, for me, this is the only stage that I believe has no congruence with how we deal with either the lockdown or the pandemic
Depression: Is where I find myself currently and “snap out of it” is not an answer. My daily exercise outings are not really bringing me any joy for a variety of reasons and the cloak inevitability of weighs heavy on my shoulders.
Acceptance: Can I ever accept? Will I be forced to accept what seems to be almost inevitable…the control of the masses by the few. I have no voice and, at the end of the day, I will have to fall in line whether I am willing to or not.
Yet I soldier on. Sleep-deprived as the hours of darkness no longer hold any pleasure and the dreams that assail me wake me in the early hours and their remnants will not allow me to go back to sleep for any length of time. I am certain that psychologists and psychiatrists will be taking block bookings soon.
Please note: The thoughts expressed in this posting are my opinion and are not representative of any group or organization in any shape or form.