Each year May brings around the end of Spring for many of us, and with it comes hopes and fancies of summer. Somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate or even at all helpful to be dreaming of weekend breaks in the South of Spain or lavish spring trends hanging in our busy wardrobes. Realistically, the future of travel is unknown and certainly inaccessible at the moment, and we’re all living in our sweatpants and “a nice top”, on account of the more professional zoom calls that require just a touch of “I did get dressed today”. May looks different this year.
Although lockdown and isolation is new territory for us, humanity has had to do this sort of thing before. We’ve been through a lifestyle of restriction, limitation, a reduction of luxury, and I know what my Grandma would be saying to me right now. She'd tell me that it won't feel easy or natural to let go of some of the luxuries we're used to be it is completely necessary. She'd tell me of a time when there were food shortages and rations and there were lines around the block to get essentials from the shop. She'd tell me to take pleasure in the things I can do and to be patient. She always had a way of highlighting the positives and making the world seem a little sweeter.
We’re not facing post-war time but we are facing a pandemic that is hurting millions of people. It’s not reasonable to go on holiday or to invest in fast fashion and trends. We can’t go out for lavish meals at restaurants or drinks down the pub. There are no tickets to the cinema or shows at the theatre. Life is different, for how long, we don’t know, but just because it’s restricted doesn’t mean that it can’t be beautiful and inspiring.
Many of our grandparents experienced, at some point, restriction and limitation in their lifestyle and we often see that in the traits of that generation. Always saving plastic bags and wrapping paper and nice bags and ribbons, and the countless tubs and plates of leftovers in the fridge. When going through my grandparent’s house last year to help tidy up, we found endless boxes of half-opened chocolates, random notes, paper pads, pens, soaps, and shampoos saved from hotel or spa visits. We even found a fruit cake! The icing so hardened and stuck together that we only managed to decipher half of the writing on the top, not enough to figure out what the cake was from. That generation carried through a mindset of saving and treasuring what you have, they built their lives on it.
“Save the pennies and the pounds will come.”
So maybe this can be a good opportunity to reflect and be inspired by what we’ve already got and what we can already do. Possibly it’s the simple things that can fuel us through this challenging time, like having a chance to sit down and enjoy a meal rather than squeezing it in at the end of the night after getting home late from work. Set the table, pour a glass of wine, savour each bite. Maybe it’s taking time to cook or bake something new from scratch.
I've been enjoying our single daily walk so much more than I had done previously, savouring every step and peak of sunlight that shines between the houses I walk past. I've never appreciated a south-facing window more in my life, as every day the sun shines through the sheer curtains that cover it and illuminates our fiddle tree sitting in front lapping up every drop of sunlight. Somedays all I need is to lie in front of said window, feet hanging out over the ledge with my kindle hovering above my face. Too many times have I dropped my kindle on myself in a moment of absent-mindedness, but that never bitters these sweet moments. I've never actually noticed our plants grow before but for the first time, I'm seeing new leaves and taking absolute joy from checking in, as baby leaves turn darker and larger and mature and new little buds start appearing on all our plants. I've recently started growing a pumpkin (which was, in fact, a mistake) from a dried seed from a recipe we tried a few months ago. These things I never had time to appreciate or do before are becoming my daily highlights. I'm finding that taking time to pause, working with what I've got, and taking pleasure in those things is helping to distract from the taunts of past summers gone by or holidays I wish I could go on.
It might do us some good to lower our standards of “luxury”. Reframe luxury. Isn’t it luxurious to feel the warmth of the sun through the window? Or a cool bottle of wine on a warm day or soft fresh laundry or perfectly ripe fruit or going for a walk in good weather. Feel inspired by what’s sitting right there, maybe a shift in mindset will brighten what seems like a rather gloomy time.