You've probably heard it before, but the feeling most of us are experiencing in this pandemic is a feeling of grief. Grief for our old way of living, for 'normal' lifestyle, for luxuries, habits and daily routines. Whether you were happy and appreciative of your pre-corona life or not, the sense of having no control of this change can be debilitating. It makes us sad, scared, sometimes angry, sometimes nostalgic. The list of things we had to give up is long, ranging from hugs to lost work and sometimes it's good to let ourselves complain about it. There might be things we've lost that we don't miss and we might be surprised because we've never questioned their place in our life before. I have to be honest, for this post I tried to think of a list of things I don't miss and I failed completely.. I tried putting 'early morning flights' but immediately got nostalgic thinking of traveling and watching the sunrise from a plane window. So I guess I will have to find something else to write about..
Most of my conversations with friends nowadays can be put in to categories: 1) this sucks 2) this might be ok. We're constantly walking on this tightrope not wanting to fall into one category too deep. Sharing our struggles and compensating them with a pinch of positivity (omg I'm saving so much money not eating out). During one of these conversations my friend asked me: 'Do you think there are some upsides in your life turning upside down?' At first I couldn't think of anything and it made me sad to realise that I had built a life that I was quite happy with. But that question stayed with me, especially in the dark hours of the quarantine when I badly needed a push towards this might be ok.
There was another feeling that has been sitting with me for the last couple of weeks. It's a feeling of freedom. How ironic, you might say, to feel freedom in the midst of a lockdown. It wasn't 'I'm going to drop it all and go live in Bali' freedom, it was this sense that when everything falls apart you can actually do whatever the heck you want or feel inspired to. It's like graduating from university, suddenly all the rules and timetables are gone and you can go out to the world and be whoever you want to be. It's a little scary but it's damn liberating too.
After some weeks of being under lockdown my feeling of freedom grew. I can do whatever I want because it doesn't matter yet it does was leading my choices. It's not that my previous life didn't have that element of liberty, but I guess things just had more importance and weight than they should have had and my inner critic was louder. Eventually, from choosing daily activities to finding work, I gave myself permission to try, to fail, to experiment and possibly to make a fool of myself. That permission to be free is in the essence of living a creative life, even if it's under lockdown.
The question was - where did this freedom come from? Why did it take me a lockdown to feel more liberated? I think it has to do with fragility and uncertainty. We are living through an unprecedented time (at least in the last century) where for the last 3 months we've been bombarded with information about death, sickness and danger. Even if you're not following the news, the numbers of dead and sick will find a way to sneak into your daily life and into your unconsciousness. I know, sounds not great, but that exact uncertainty and the loss of personal control is the door to freedom. Realising that our control is limited, our life - fragile and future - unknown can lead us to giving ourselves permission to do whatever we can think of. And maybe finding some relief in our grief.