Last week, I wrote about my lockdown essential items, and promised to write about the – often less tangible – things I am grateful for. When you consider that if lockdown had ended when it was originally supposed to, it would have been over for a few days already, I can imagine that there are some people really struggling out there, and as cheesy as it sounds, reflecting on the things you have to be grateful for can help.
I hope everyone has at least one thing that they can still feel grateful for, whether it’s big or small. I’m lucky to have quite a few.
- Space – I am intensely conscious that not every South African has the luxury of space during this time. I don’t live in a massive house, but it is more than enough space for me, and I am even luckier in that I live in a ground floor apartment, so I can go into my little garden and get some fresh air and clear my head (or listen to an owl calling while in my PJs, much to the amusement of the security guards in my complex).
- Solitude – this one is going to surprise a lot of people, especially as I know many people are concerned for my welfare, since I am alone. But I’m honestly glad that I’m locked down on my own. Of course, I’m sure it would be different if I was in a long term relationship or whatever, but right now, I am so glad I don’t have to share my space with a housemate, even if that person was a friend. It’s not that I don’t love all my friends and love spending time with them, but I’m the kind of person who craves her own space after being in anyone’s company for extended periods of time. As outgoing and friendly as I am, underneath it all, I’m an introvert and I need to decompress in my own company after I’ve been in any social situation. I think I would be quietly losing my mind and destroying relationships if I was locked down with anyone else right now. And it obviously goes without saying that my choice not to have children has never seemed like a better one!
- My people – my comfort in being alone doesn’t mean I’m not immensely grateful for the people I love. The ones who check in on me, or send me random WhatsApps about rugby, or spend an hour on the phone with me, trying to troubleshoot my DSTV connection issues. The ones who put up with my epic, super sweary voicenotes when I’m stressed. Even the ones who just like to message me once a week to tell me it must be awful to be locked down with cats (I think secretly he wishes he had a cat, to be honest). I do miss my friends and can’t wait to go to a gig or a game or just have dinner or drinks again. I’m not a Zoom group catch up kind of girl, but we find our ways to stay connected (probably the one and only reason to be grateful for WhatsApp, the simultaneous blessing and curse of my existence) and I always count myself lucky to have amazing people in my life.
- Henry and Violet – I think the people who share their homes with pets are the luckiest of all right now. All the companionship with none of the backchat 😉 And they keep online meetings interesting. In the beginning, they were a bit perplexed that I was home all the time, and Violet, who is very sensitive to change and stress, spent the first few days alternating between hiding under the bed or at the top of the cupboard and trying to live in my pocket. Now they’re over the novelty and have mostly gone back to sleeping the days away. Although Henry is trying to shred the back of my chair (sorry, his chair) as I type this.
- Security – I am lucky in that I am able to work from home, and so I have as much financial security as anyone does right now in this crazy world we find ourselves in. I’m also lucky that I live in a secure complex, so I’m grateful for my physical security too. I appreciate the fact that our guards are putting themselves at risk by being at work every day, so I try and take them treats when I can. They did tell me they’re finding the whole thing quite boring, since everyone is following the rules where I live, and there’s essentially nothing for them to do all day. I guess that kind of boredom is something to be grateful for too.
- Leadership – I’m also grateful for the fact that, whatever your party politics, we have a president who is knocking this thing out of the park. He has been calm and inspiring in all of his addresses, and although not everyone will agree with all the decisions he has made, he has been unafraid to make the tough calls, and far sooner than leaders of most other countries. He has done his best to get us ahead of this thing before it really takes hold. Only time will tell if his efforts will be successful, and of course, the rub is that if they are successful, all the people saying he’s overreacted will feel they were right. I think he’s been incredible.
- The South African spirit – I mean, everyone who knows me knows I’m ridiculously patriotic, but I am genuinely grateful that although there have been some niggles here and there, for the most part South Africans are taking this in their stride. We find ways to laugh at literally everything, even when it may seem unbelievably dark to others. And we find ways to give back to others who are less fortunate than us, or to lessen the load in whatever way we can. I’m grateful for everyone who’s trying to make a difference, whether it’s by making us laugh or handing out food parcels. This country shines brightest when it seems like things are at their darkest.
Of course, like everyone else, I am grateful for all the essential services workers. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, cashiers, truck drivers – the list is endless. That should go without saying.