Only for the lockdown, I may never have experienced the following:
My hair appointment (always booked two months in advance) was cancelled. I texted my hairdresser, desperate for advice on box dyes. She informed me of my colour. Debated doing a patch test. Decided I’d better. It was the “ALLERGIC REACTION MAY CAUSE DEATH” bit that got me. Going to the hospital would be a nightmare! The patch test burned and I was left with a scabby wound. Decided to go gracefully grey.
A few weeks later, I purchased a different brand. The patch test stung. How much stinging is dangerous? Maybe I can use this as an opportunity to see how I’d look if I consciously decided not to cover the greys.
Took a nail scissors to my hair instead. I wanted a layered look. I sliced off two chunks. I was reminded of that one time I cut a Barbie’s hair and kept having to compensate by shortening the opposite side. Bald Barbie really stood out from the crowd. I put down the scissors.
When someone told me that we should try on our jeans every day “because tracksuit bottoms/leggins/pyjamas are lying to us,” I was enveloped in a wave of emotion (anxiety, guilt, rage, denial). “That’s the worst idea ever,” I retorted.
Did a 20-minute Joe Wicks’ workout. I couldn’t bend over for three days (and counting…)
Whenever a TV character walks down a busy street or through a colourful market or into a noisy bar, I mutter: “Before the Corona virus.” Nothing on television really reflects our current reality. And they don’t stream The News on Netflix.
Remember how I got my boyfriend into Irish radio? Well, he’s taken to texting Dermot and Dave even without a cash prize motive. He felt the need to share that, according to the Lockdown Personalities they’d discussed, he’s a Bubble Burster. This means that when someone suggests that this will all be over soon, he disagrees: “No pints in pubs or international travel until 2021.”
In case you’re wondering, I’m a Quarantine Queen. I’m the one who sets up all the Zoom catchups and emails on the links. I’ve also completed several meditation-, personal development- and exercise-based challenges. More still to come. And I saw my no-sugar-or-crisps-for-Lent challenge (sacrifice?) right through to the end, despite the apocalyptic vibes.
I’ve noticed that whenever I start dancing, my boyfriend drops everything to join me. We wiggle and laugh and get all the lyrics wrong. I look into his eyes and smile, enjoying a rich few minutes’ appreciation for his presence and willingness to put aside whatever he’s doing to be with me in silly abandon.
The song finishes. The moment ends. And I’m right back to my multi-challenges and Zoom-ing. Earning my title every goddamn day.
Last Saturday, a couple of people advised me to check out Tony Bates (a clinical psychologist discussing resilience) on The Marian Finucane Show. Me being me (disliking pressure / rarely doing what I’m told / avoiding things that are probably good for me), I didn’t switch on the radio.
But then, me being me (seeing sense eventually and not being too proud to admit when I’ve made a mistake), I decided that I would have a listen. However, it is now Wednesday, four days since the piece aired. I’ve missed the proverbial boat. But not if modern technology has anything to do with it.
With a few simple clicks, I can dust off the podcast, and with another few clicks, skip right to the good stuff. With laptops and iPods and Sky+ Boxes, I can do away with time and chronology. I am living in a world driven by downloads and streaming and GPS. I can record my favourite programmes and choose to view them a year later. I can rewind live TV and fast forward the ads. I can listen to morning radio as I complete my daily walk, pausing Ray D’Arcy mid-interview as I pop into the shop to buy chewing gum.
Does all this mean we’re messing with the proper order of things and doing away with living in the present moment? I think not. These incredible scientific developments actually allow us to live more fully in the now. If I don’t feel like watching the weather report, listening to the news, or buying the paper right now, I can postpone it, without worrying about missing anything. I can pause Love/Hate to give my sister a buzz, pop to the loo, and make a cup of tea, before finally allowing Robert Sheehan to blink.
Modern technology gives creative folk a platform to showcase their talents. It’s what’s allowing me to publish my writing and to receive instant feedback from readers in Canada, Australia and Hawaii. It’s how I decide what book to read next, what movie would suit my mood, and where to go on holidays. It’s how I learn how to play the flute, cast on a stitch, and discover what the colour taupe looks like. It’s what motivated protesters to start up the Occupy Movement. It’s how I seek out what the newspapers aren’t telling me. Modern technology allows us to ignore what’s irrelevant and cut to the truth.
Have I listened to that radio show yet? No, I got distracted by the miracle of modern technology and then decided to share my random reflections with the world. Maybe I’ll put it on now. Or not.
Featured Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Devanagari_INSCRIPT_Keyboard.JPG
I was watching an episode of Downton Abbeyrecently when I was struck by how different life was in the early 1900s. Any expression of emotion was frowned upon; the working class was forbidden from befriending the upper class and vice versa; and unwed mothers were cast into disrepute.
As the drama onscreen drew to a close, I began to give gratitude for all the freedoms I possess but usually take for granted. For example, how different my life is from that of a woman 200 years ago. I can vote in the elections during the day and read about how to bag a lover in a glossy magazine by night. I can attend university and choose how to make a living from any number of possible occupations.
How different my life is… from that of a strict Muslim. I can style my hair whichever way I please (and show it off as I strut down the street in a short skirt and stilettos). I can order a steak and sip on a Mojito, while holding hands with my latest fancy-man across the table.
How different my life is… from that of a prison inmate. I can leave my room whenever I choose. I can breathe in all the fresh air I need and stare up at the open sky for as long as I like… I can jump in the car and drive to whatever destination attracts me. I can live with love and determination and hope instead of fear and frustration and longing…
"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." Voltaire
How different my life is… from that of a single parent. I can go away for a weekend at a moment’s notice. I can stay in bed all day when I’m under the weather… I can decide not to cook when I’m feeling lazy. I can read romance novels or watch soppy movies for hours on end… I can sleep through the night, without being woken up by a screaming infant or a mischievous teen.
How different my life is… from that of a person who’s confined to a wheelchair. I can walk and run and skip and cart-wheel. I can go on bike rides to the beach and roller blade in the park. I can dance with my future husband and play Tip the Can with my prospective children.
How different my life is… from that of an impoverished child in a forgotten third world country. I can afford to complain about eating too much and putting on weight. I can make myself a double-decker sandwich at 3am, after a night on the beer. I can stuff myself with smoked salmon and roast turkey and airport-sized Toblerones every Christmas. I can kiss my family good night without worrying that they’ll have starved to death before dawn.
How different my life is from that of an unemployed father… A victim of domestic abuse… An addict… A criminal… A widow… Somebody suffering from mental illness… A blind person… Somebody who’s just been told they have a terminal disease…
Most of the time, we’re too busy to give thanks for all that we’re fortunate enough to have. To a certain extent, we’re all afflicted with problems and difficulties. But do we ever stop to think about how lucky we really are? Why not pause for a moment to consider the other tree-lined avenues or dark alleyways our life journeys could have taken us down… Some of them appear to be fuller and richer and more exciting. But others are sad and horrid and painful.
Wherever you are right now, that is where you’re meant to be. Give thanks for that. And make the most of it. I know I will.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
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