It was Saturday 7th March. I lay in bed, the sun shining warmly in on me and I thought about how I’d prepare for the very strange events that were coming to us. I knew that if I actually had the same conversation going on in my head with someone around me, they’d likely think I was a bit mad or certainly premature anyways.
My gut feeling has always been something I’ve tried to respect. Having ignored it many times in my 20’s, I always felt the bold repercussions of the ego and mind taking the higher ground. So I learned, at the very least – to listen to it. And it was gently encouraging me to think bigger than the information that was being delivered to us in news bulletins and tweets. Something alarmed me to be somewhat more open minded to the potential disruption to normal life. It was telling me not to be arrogant or ignorant.
While I continue to write and record music, I also teach a class of Senior Infant children. Last week, I went to school each day, feeling different, like something was about to change. I didn’t present those feelings to the children or to colleagues as I knew things would unfold in their own time. And here we are. A week later, in a very different world. As I handed out all their little workbooks, I wanted to hug each one of them. Their little innocent faces filled with inquisition as I told them that the boss of our country had decided to give us a ‘break’ from school to help us clean away some germs that were causing some older people to get sick. There was a mixture of excitement and disappointment from them as I swallowed hard on the huge big lump in my throat.
The uncertainty of what’s happening in the world right now inevitably unnerves me. As I took the children out to meet their parents on Thursday afternoon, I wondered if we would all return without having been dramatically affected by this in one way or another. I felt myself welling up not knowing when we’d just be our ‘normal’ selves again, moving from Maths to Gaeilge and so on. I have already slowed down to a pace I’m not used to and my priority is those I love and care for. I want them to be ok whenever this passes. Their importance in my life has become so much more important. All of a sudden, our basic instinct is to protect and come together yet it’s; shutdowns, lockdowns, cancellations, isolation, separation, division – a bleak outlook.
But it has made me think and it’s forced me to focus on ‘here and now’. A place I don’t often get to stay for any length of time due to the ‘busy-ness’ of normal life. Yes, it’s weird and scary, the thoughts of being in limited space with just a handful of people for an indefinite period of time but is it at all possible that it will enlighten and lighten us too?
The world has been incredibly vulnerable for a very long time. Pushing it and life to its limits by jam-packing it with stuff, with noise, with all the unnecessary stuff. And here it is, spreading bacteria like wildfire and chasing us all into panic and uncertainty. Now, everything is down to us, not them, not he or she but a worldwide collective us! We have to slow this down, we have to protect our vulnerable and we pray that when the worst has passed, we will step away, minimally unscathed. And we have to do it together through the most distant of ways.
We understand entirely that it is an unprecedented and uncertain time. Looking at our diaries, we don’t know how long we will be ‘home’ for. Will the ‘normal’ we knew, still be the ‘normal’ we continue on with? There are lots of questions and very little answers because no one knows. So, perhaps the best thing we can do is accept that we now have time, lots of it. Let’s lighten the load of unnecessary stuff. Stay ‘home’ and take proper care of everything that has ever really, truly mattered.