By Hannah Yuan; Edited by Katerina Theocharous

This piece was written on 27th June 2021, at the onset of the current NSW lockdown. Given the recent extensions of the lockdown, we believe its messages are now even more relevant.

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“Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns… We pretended that what we had lost had been taken from us by the person who still lived inside.”

– Ann Patchett, from ‘The Dutch House’

Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Blue Mountains have all just been swept up in another two week lockdown. As the Bondi cluster of COVID-19 races to 80 cases, numbers ticking up day by day, it is time to take action. As we are forced into another two weeks of isolation and anxiety, I am trying to see the positives.

At least it is only two weeks, at least it is only temporary, at least there will be a definitive end, at least we are not shrouded in worldwide fear and uncertainty. 

Time seems to stand still in lockdown. Maybe it’s the fact that someone else, something else, is dictating what you can or cannot do. But, compared to the rest of the world, we have had it good. There is much to be grateful for. Our home, our health, our hearts; they do not hang heavy just yet. 

What does it mean to be forced to slow down and exist on your own? 

Here is what it means to me.

I am glad to have grasped the early freedom of this year. I am glad to have hugged and held my loved ones close, no longer separated by masks and invisible 1.5 metre diameters. I am glad to have gone out and danced with strangers, lost in the anonymity of a crowd, stayed up til AM, raced around the city with the people I love like we had our whole lives ahead of us, eyes bright, smiles glittery. The night air tinged as if with gunpowder; anticipation and intrigue. You get to decide who you become in the night, whether you dance with the shadows or step into the light. 

That being said, I am looking forward to looking within. To returning home to myself. To re-centring, re-grounding myself. 

It has been a rollercoaster year of trying to make up for lost time. Perhaps these two weeks are a reprieve, the universe’s way of telling us to step on the brakes. Mercury did just come out of retrograde, after all. 

This time, it is different. This time, we have a definite light at the end of the tunnel. This time, we know what to expect. We know how to carve routine into uncertainty, how to coax spontaneity out of monotony. Whether that be testing out a new recipe, walking around the block a different route or putting on a new movie, we have become masters at creating comfort within chaos. 

And as we all retreat within our homes and ourselves, introspection and reflection are in order. Granted, time alone with nothing but my own thoughts drove me crazy last year, sending me into spiralling thought patterns I could not escape from. I was left questioning everything, over-analysing all of my past actions and all of my relationships until I was picking myself apart, bit by bit. But now, I am grateful for this breath of time to reflect on 2021 so far. To reflect on the person I am in this present moment, and all the people I have been in between. It is time to look in the mirror and face the questions and doubts we are usually so good at running away from. Appointments, catch-ups, lunches, busy schedules, busy lives, they pull our focus everywhere and anywhere but ourselves. But without knowing who you are inside, how do you keep going, growing, evolving? 

As we all look within, I hope we don’t forget to reach out as well. FaceTiming friends, meeting up to exercise, checking in on those vulnerable neighbours. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that community carries us through. People. People show us the way when we are lost and people lift us up when we fall down. People pull us through. So, hold your loved ones close and say your blessings for their continued good health.

In a time where technology and medicine are racing to achieve development after development, life is still so impossibly fragile. So precious, so finite, so fleeting. A single flame in a hurricane; easily snuffed out, easily stolen away. It is extraordinary how quickly things can change, how health can deteriorate, how time can pass by and suddenly, it feels as though everything is slipping away. 

But all we have is now. This present moment, this one life. 

As we move into this two week lockdown, I hope we remember the things that are important and real and true. I hope we don’t forget to hold out a mirror to ourselves and a hand to each other. 

All we have is the here and now. All we have is each other, and ourselves. 

Somewhere, somehow. 

“So if time is predicated

On abstractions in a void

Do not subjugate yourself

Capitulating to the noise

If I could reach out through the screen

And give you something to believe in I would

But I’m with you in amongst the confusion” [1]

[1] – Say Yes to Life by Gang of Youths

References:

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-fines-or-jail-threatened-for-people-who-travel-outside-australia-covid-19-hotspot-12018567

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