Staff Corner: Michelle's little remote hamlet
Current location: Rural Dublin, Ireland
“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”– Oscar Wilde
No, really, blink once and you’ll miss the entirety of the year 2020. Some, many in fact, might argue that it was a terrible year, nothing good happened in it, they never wish to talk about it again and can’t wait for it to be over. I take a different approach.
To be sure, 2020 has been tough. We all have had to make sacrifices due to the pandemic, some of them much harsher than others. If you were lucky not to get Covid-19, life was still disrupted. Our social lives have been put on hold. Holidays were cancelled, money was lost, family visits had to be postponed again and again. Things didn’t go great this year.
And yet, I’d like to think that everyone found some silver linings. Though I am thoroughly sick of the four corners of my tiny little farmhouse, all of this time at home has given me so much. It’s given me an abundance of time to spend with my pets, who are getting up in years, so I’m happy to be here and snuggle with them during calls. I’ve also really improved my health. It’s funny, if you go away to college in the US and live on campus, everyone talks about the dreaded Freshman 15, read: 15 extra pounds that many gain their first year of college due to all of the changes that first year brings. When we went into lockdown, everyone began talking about the Covid stone, a stone being a unit of measurement equalling 14 pounds. Before lockdown I had a swimming routine and ate fairly healthfully. Now I run every weekday and am careful, albeit often quite indulgent, about what I eat. Thus, I avoided the dreaded Covid stone and think I’m the most physically healthy I have ever been in my life. Long may it last!
I’ve also taken a lot of my solitary time to think and reflect on my life, what I’ve done up to now, what I’m happy with and what I’d like to change and improve. I have also devoured a ton of audio books, diving deep into Dickens and Dumas, thoroughly enjoying each book, and always afterwards feeling appreciative for what I have (if you’ve ever read Dickens, you’ll realise that most of his characters have NOT).
I consider myself extremely lucky in my lockdown circumstances. Many are entirely alone, while I have two pets and an extra human with me. We have a lot of space where we can both walk and run, we have lovely neighbours on the street that we’ve made friends with because we’re walking more. We’ve saved the planet a little bit by driving far less. We’ve not killed each other. All silver linings to a pretty terrible situation on paper.
With the creation of the vaccinations, we all now have solid reason to hope for better times ahead. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel is still long. If 2020 has taught me anything, or rather reinforced a lesson that I learned, though had forgotten, it’s that you can’t plan too far in advance. Planning for tomorrow is about the best we can manage. Will we go visit friends next month? Will we rebook that holiday to the US to visit my family? We still can’t answer many of those questions confidently just yet, because we simply can’t predict the health of the world.
One thing is for sure, though. This weekend and next week I will bake. Cookies, cakes, mince pies, all of it! I will give many away as gifts, and will enjoy tasting everything I make.
I wish everyone a safe, healthy and delicious ending to 2020, whatever way you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) these last few weeks. I sincerely look forward to working with you again in 2021.