This last few weeks I’ve felt the need to stay home. Pottering, cleaning, fixing, making. I usually love to be out in the freezing cold, or in the wind and rain, but for some reason the pull to stay indoors is strong. A little routine is developing – feed the birds, de-ice the bird baths, sit and watch the garden with a hot cup of tea. Slowly come around and begin to potter around the kitchen, tidying away the washing up from the draining board. Loading the washing machine. A quick whizz round with the hoover. Small things.
I’ve wanted to retreat more and more recently. It seems part of a bigger shift, to step away for a while, to feel deeper rhythms somehow. It’s always been hard to let go of online connection, but the last few months I found it easier and easier. It was the right time to lose social media. It was the right time to stop listening to the news. It felt like a sort of saturation point had been reached and after that, it was easy to switch off.
I’ve retreated from real life a little, too. I’ve been rubbish at keeping in touch with people and lockdown has dragged on. It’s been hard to keep myself afloat in this third national lockdown, although where I live we’ve been in enhanced measures for most of the last 12 months. Part of me is used to it now. Part of me is worn down. What was it like to meet friends in a café? To sit next to someone without wondering just how many viral particles are floating around in the intervening space? How does it feel to hug someone, to put an arm around their shoulder, to laugh loudly without covering your face with a mask? What is this doing to us long term… I wonder.
Small rhythms, though, are getting me through. Withdrawing has been cathartic, in a way. Putting on mascara for a teams lecture is a big event. Going to the supermarket once a week is huge. I shop differently, picking up the things on the list, not lingering to browse, not really seeing any new items. A quick round and out and back home. Mask off. Hand wash. Breathe out.
Evenings are spent in blankets, under cushions, with a twitch stream or youtube video, a magazine or a book. I’ve been spinning wool, something to do with my hands, a rhythm that quiets my mind. Flow. Making things with clay. Tidying up. Organising spaces. Usually I’d walk, and walk, and walk to calm my mind. But rhythms can be found in small things too and recently the desire to walk has left me. It will return, I know. In a week, or two, or more. It’s okay.
Simple things, solid things. Actions I can have control over. A space I can influence. I can’t change the news, I can’t change people’s opinions, I can’t change the world. But I can organise a cupboard, clean a floor, create a meal. I can make something out of metal and beads, I can play music, I can look after the wildlife in my garden. So this is what I will do, head down, out of the big rush of the world for a while. Quietly, softly. Nesting.