I’m sitting here looking at a blank page, wondering what on earth to write my Monthly Musing about. The theme of my blog is “looking for the extraordinary in the everyday”; the idea is that it makes me look past what I’m doing all the time to see what’s special, what’s different, what I might miss if I don’t take the time to see it – but after weeks and weeks of the same four walls, the “extraordinary” of being in lockdown has become “ordinary” and things that really are out of the ordinary now but would have been ordinary before are sometimes a cause for concern.
Just this afternoon, I was standing outside the vet’s practice waiting for the veterinary nurse to bring some medication for one of our cats, chatting to a lady whose pet was inside with the vet and another man, whose enormous St Bernard dog was sitting companionably on his feet whilst they waited their turn. It’s not ordinary to have to stand outside, no longer allowed in to see the vet or even into the waiting room. Our pets go in without us (“I really don’t like that”, says the man, and I have to agree with him) and we are given advice from a half-open door. We might not like it, but it is how it is. Extraordinary becomes ordinary.
Going to the beach, however, is a completely different matter, especially when it makes the news headlines because of the sheer volume of people crowded into one space. Ordinary becomes extraordinary. I found that watching the TV pictures during the recent heatwave actually caused a physical reaction in me – I felt real worry and anxiety for all of those people, their loved ones at home and the people who lived in the area. I wanted to them all to be at home and I wanted them all to be safe.
It made me wonder how I am going to feel when the lockdown restrictions are relaxed completely, or as completely as they are going to get. Before I went to the vet’s this afternoon, I took the dog for a long walk through the nearby woods but cut our walk short when I saw that the pathway was busy up ahead. Ordinarily, I would have paused because the dog is especially talented at sniffing out the person with the best treats and Giving Them The Eyes until they hand them over, but now I pause because the pathway is narrow and I don’t want to have to squeeze past with a dog trying to do his eye thing in close proximity to too many people. How long will it be before we don’t look at people and judge how far away from us they are, and whether we are all at a suitable distance? How long before the dog is free to hypnotise other dog walkers into handing over their own dogs’ treats?
Ordinary and extraordinary have been turned on their heads, and I think it will be a long time, if ever, before our lives go back to anything like they were before, at least when we’re out and about. A different way of living for us all; not chosen but imposed with us left to make the best of it. Which we will, of course. It makes you think, doesn’t it?