A couple of weeks ago I shared about a zoom chat with my Master 6. He had told me about being nervous at going back to school, and that he didn’t really want to go back. He couldn’t articulate why, other than that he liked being at home with mum. So we talked a bit about his school friends and remembering the fun times they had shared earlier in the year. I had hoped this would serve to encourage him and reduce his nerves about the prospect of school.
It was after that conversation and feeling like I lacked giving him a tangible solution, that I was challenged to consider my own feelings about coming out of isolation as the restrictions ease. While we don’t always have/or have to have ‘something tangible’ for everything as we seek to help another, I think at times (in my experience anyway) that sometimes we are unable to ‘help’ because of our own challenge with the topic or situation at hand. And so I considered this thought: of how the benefits of being an essential worker, having a few friends in my 5km radius, and now having a Bubble Buddy, I feel quite blessed. But then I wonder about returning to bigger environments, higher demands on my time, and how to redistribute the allocation of what (and even who) is an important priority to utilise my time for.
Over the course of time, some restrictions have become quite convenient, while others are far too restrictive and inconvenient. For some, we’re quite happy to have the excuse to stay at home on Friday night, rather than having to make the effort to go out. But then on the other hand it would also be great to be able to catch up in person for some direct social interaction with all those who are significant in our world.
After several months of living under these restrictions, I think it’s going to require of us a new energy and a new effort, to find a ‘healthy state’ (pardon the pun) of interaction again. While ‘iso’ has shown us some things we don’t really need and can therefore continue to do without, there are other things we will need to step out of ‘convenience’ for, and make the effort to reintroduce.
At the time of considering all this while writing the original post, two memories came to mind. The first one (as shared there) was the process of entering the water at the beach. Now here is the second one:
It could be said of any of my return trips from Africa, but most significantly so that of 2014 after a year of living in Uganda, that what caused the most angst in me was getting back out on the road as a driver. While I drove in Uganda, it wasn’t like driving here, and as I only had opportunity to drive around town and between towns, 80kms/hr was as fast as I got. For the most part 60kms/hr was about where I sat due to the condition of the roads in some areas, not wanting stones to connect with my windscreen, and not knowing who or what might step out onto the road from behind the bushes along the roadside.
A good road in the dry season, but a stone could spoil that for your windscreen. Here’s a couple of funny pics:
So coming home and being allowed to drive on our freeways at 100 – 110kms/hr was like a head rush for me. I couldn’t do it. So my first drive on a freeway was usually a week or so after an adequate amount of suburban driving. And even then there was a process of mental preparation and self encouragement in the lead up to making the journey on a freeway I was familiar with.
That first journey on a freeway would begin with me sticking in the left lane and driving at 60kms/hr until the tightness of anxiety in my chest dissipated, and I could slowly increase my speed. If no one else was around me, then as I comfortably reached the speed limit, I could then move out of the left lane, knowing full well that if I didn’t like it then I could jump back to my left again! As cars joined me on the freeway, there were many times when I felt anxious about the speed of their approach coming up behind me, for them to then weave in and around the traffic, and so I got back into that left lane, sitting in convoy with those moving at my pace.
But then once I found my confidence behind the wheel again, got used to the feel and sound of my own car at such speeds, and the speed of the traffic, those feelings of fear and angst would dissipate and be replaced with feelings of freedom and excitement in anticipation of where I was going, and who I was about to see. Sometimes it took just one drive, and sometimes it took a few drives to find my ‘driving niche’ again. But I would encourage myself with: “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to find it, just that I keep on seeking it, until I do find it.”
And so I relate driving my car with driving my life out of ‘iso’ and all its restrictions. It’s the transition from 60kms/hr to 100kms/hr. It’s the difference between rough and rugged dirt roads, and those that are sealed and smooth. It’s recognising that I can go at whatever pace I choose to, and if that means travelling in the very left lane, then so be it. I will be travelling with others who are also comfortable with that pace, without blocking anyone else from travelling at what is comfortable for them. And then as I’m ready to, I can pick up speed and move out of that left hand lane, not forgetting that I always have the option of returning to it if I need to.
So as with my Master 6, while at first I also could not articulate my feelings, now as a result of our conversation, I’m processing them. I guess the evidence and effectiveness of that processing will be proven when I have to outwork them, when and as restrictions ease. But to keep in mind there is always a left hand lane to get back in to, if and when I feel the need to. So here’s my little ‘ditty’ to remind myself:
Be it driving or in life
Neither is a race
Choose your destination
And travel at your pace.