Lockdown is over!

Photo by Pratap Chhetrti on Unsplash

Solitary confinement has finished. 

Not exactly, but today two adults are allowed to visit friends here in New South Wales, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Freedom is on its way back, but instead of rejoicing I findmyself wishing the enforced isolation could last just a few weeks longer. What’s that all about?

I lost my job. At times I’ve been bored, anxious and drinking too much, but I have also become used to the slower pace, spending more time with my partner and establishing new routines. Much has been written about nature returning and emissions reducing, and while the truth is a little more complicated, I cannot deny that the air around here has become stunningly clear. And full of butterflies.

I have not been making sourdough (mostly because there’s no flour in the shops), but I have been spending large portions of my days cooking, as well as gardening, exercising nearly every day and swimming at the beach far more than I used to. The more fixing, cleaning and sorting I do, the more I discover should be done and I really feel like I need a few more weeks or even months to get on top of things.

Before the lockdown started, five years ago or whenever that was, I wrote about my desire to stay home and not to drive anywhere again, and that feeling has not changed much. Well, I quite like the idea of driving somewhere pretty, but I wouldn’t want to arrive anywhere. (Of course, I wouldn’t actually do that because climate change.)

My life has shrunk around me and I find I am caring slightly less about what’s outside the bubble. 

At first I offered to deliver food or drive people to medical appointments, but no-one wanted me. My elderly neighbours are totally fine and I was even rejected from giving blood. I’ve tried to stay in contact with activist groups and global issues, but we can’t gather to plan or protest, so my world keeps contracting. Although this does make me calmer, I suspect it’s ultimately not what I want.

I suppose the point is that for me, life in lockdown has been a break. It has been easier than my life before, but I know it can’t go on like this. My world is about to expand again, and it must, because there is so much work to do.

We have been given the rare opportunity to witness what is possible when countries cooperate and we collectively recognise the presence of a life-threatening emergency. Everything can be changed. All our systems can be adapted to preserve our existence when necessary. Conservative governments can send cheques to the unemployed and take over private hospitals for public use. Astoundingly, the endless-growth economy is not all there is.

When the world emerges from this pandemic, the crisis will not be over. 

The imminent breakdown of the Earth’s climate is looming and it not only threatens human life, but also the existence of every animal, plant and ecosystem on our planet.

What we now know is that it is possible for our species to work together to avoid at least the very worst results of climate change. When there is an emergency we can throw away the rules and do whatever it takes to react appropriately. We can immediately begin to transition away from fossil fuels and our suicidal economic systems. We can act like the house is on fire, as Greta says.

Well, there is an emergency, so it’s time to get to work.