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The Shift

authenticity May 31, 2020


And just like that, it feels like its over when we know deep within our bones that it is not. But there has been a shift. A shift towards the normality that right in the midst of the virus we told each other we would not welcome again. That our “new normality” suited us, suited society, suited earth. That we would no longer tolerate what went before, virus or no virus.

And yet, and yet, and yet. Here we are. Shops opening and our tiniest, little people sacrificed to the necessary gods of education. Beaches heaving with the same families screeching about liberty, while hoarding the much coveted supermarket delivery spots because they will not chance the aisles. So much that now exposes who we are as a society. So much that has in just a few weeks become, selfish, ugly and political.

Where before I felt frightened, now I feel sad. And so very confused. Instruction comes thick and fast, often contradicting itself and making little sense. The legacy of the virus exists in our vernacular now. In “social distance” and “self-isolation”. It is writ large in the silence of the queues we join to buy bread and the gel we pour onto our hands before we are allowed to push a trolley. The shift in the fact that it no longer feels novel, but a part of life we as a people have simply absorbed as essential, and would not dream of railing against. Instead turning our anger and resentment towards individuals or the groups we imagine are diluting our chances of survival and ranting irrationally and endlessly on social media about perceived, class-based injustice.

Just a few short weeks ago, the sky was clear here and the gardens alive with chirping, relaxed birds. Now, though our travel options are limited, the skies are criss-crossed with busy air-traffic and the only tweets of note coming from a president apparently determined to bait and disparage his own people, in the face of intolerable racism.

We are apparently, what we are. And even the seismic shift of a virus that once looked to threaten all of us, wasn’t enough to change that. But if we cannot be a part of a better society in its aftermath, because that very society aches to wrap us up again in the barbed wire of economics, we can instead resolve to nurture our own “society” in the same way we have in the past three months, slowing down, choosing what matters, turning away from the endless pursuit of stimulation and focusing instead on living better than we ever have before. In creating gardens and growing food. In maintaining the rituals established during isolation, and remembering why connection matters. In seeing, finally, social media for what it is and turning back to books. To silence. To the bliss of home and all that it offers for our collective well-being.

There has been, I think, a shift in me too. Life isn’t what it was here. My family will now be under my feet for many months to come. Neither going back to school or places of work. So I am having to find new ways to divine the time I need to nurture my own sanity. To create the boundaries I once had ring-fenced by their daily absence. I am looking at all that I do and studying it carefully. Dissecting it, deciding what stays and what goes. Fashioning for myself a vision of the future I may not have contemplated before the advent of Covid-19.

Though I have recognised the rumblings of my own discontent and indeed shared them here over the past year, now I cannot silence them. My heart aches not for the muddle and unpredictability of what has long been established, but for rhythm, creative satisfaction and the hug of home.

There has been time you see? In the midst of this virus. To actually experience home. To not be blinking, exhausted at my screen, but to to be filling window ledges with fragrant herbs and floral tins with homemade shortbread. To make dishes that take time, Potato Dauphinois and Toulouse Cassolet. To enjoy nails ridged with the dirt of a new garden and the splash of the hose as we bless home-gown tomatoes, strawberries and beans. To sit in the candle-lit conservatory and throw our own concerts, all three of us taking it in turns to treat each other to our favourite songs.

I have in this time turned away from social media and magazines and remembered what it is to do nothing more than lose myself in a real book. To write with a pen. To seek out friends for intimate conversations, and discover how very lovely our neighbours are. I have layered the bed in new linen and though we still cannot deliver it to the tip, rid the house of so much clutter, urgently understanding the need to own only that which is the very essence of who we are. I have lost weight. I move more. Cook more. Live more. Am more. And I am both happier and sadder, with no explanation for either emotion: simply blessed now with the ability to recognise what I’m feeling and allow it to consume me.

A shift. A shift that means changes here. Changes already intended but now hastened by a twist of collective fright. A shrinking of ambition and embracing of authenticity, clarity and love of domesticity.

Let’s learn then, to love life at home, together. To nurture our own little domestic societies and bless each and every day with routine, ritual and teeny celebration. I am going to be offline for a week or two longer while I complete the jigsaw that is tomorrow’s BrocanteHome in my mind, so if the site disappears for a day or two don’t panic, I will be back very soon and I hope you will join me, ready to create a life that matters in a reality we never could have dreamed of.

Till then, be kind to you and yours.


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