You remember when the talk was all about living in the “here and now”, a technique of mindfulness that helped us to focus on the present, rather than dwell on the past or what may happen in the future?
Well, here we are, living the dream. We are well and truly operating in the here and now on every level. It is no longer an aspirational part of our inner world, where we use it as a form of meditation to help us quell anxious thoughts. It has become part of our reality as a whole, as our inner and outer worlds collide. Who would have thought it?
Pre-March, the conversation was all about Brexit with Remainers and Brexiters still caught up in their particular argument and unwilling or unable to see the other point of view. The problem and the anger seemed insurmountable.
Now, Brexit is almost upon us and who’s talking it about it? It seems so, well, unimportant. It’s not of course. It’s hugely important and significant and may lead to extraordinary complications if a suitable deal is not done. It will have an impact on us long after Covid-19 is done and dusted. However, for all of us stuck in the here and now at present, Brexit is the subject few people are talking about.
I was listening to a recent TV interview where the interviewee pointed out that many people voted for Brexit because they believed it would give the UK its sovereignty and freedom back. The irony, she exclaimed! Brexit has not yet been fully finalised and here we are with less freedom than we’ve had taken from us during our time within the EU.
She has a point, one that I don’t think I can bear considering right now, so I’ll have to return to contemplating the increasingly limited things going on in my life and what I am – and am not – allowed to do.
Fortunately, I can still go out to buy food and drink (probably more than I would in normal times); I can go for a walk – I won’t be breaking the habit of a lifetime and taking to running – or I can stay indoors with my Vitamin D and SAD lamp (which mimics the sun’s rays though fairly ineffectively, I fear) while I organise my time into something worthwhile as the minutes turn into hours, days and months and nothing too much gets done.
I could, but of course I won’t. Like friends, family and clients, I am finding inactivity expands to fill the time. I am lucky to still see clients online and I relish the structure and the mutual support.
Usually, my role as a counsellor is to be supportive to my client who is looking to work through a problem. Now, we’re all in it together. My client still takes centre stage – each session is always about him or her, not me – but I am grateful for what I learn from them. They offer their own insights into how they are managing and it’s tempting to want to incorporate some of their own coping strategies into my own. It’s easy to see how boundaries, unless carefully watched, could become blurred.
Having switched to online work for the moment, I have a wider base of client. Most live in the UK but some are overseas and I have to admit I am slightly comforted when I hear first-hand that other governments seem to be in as much of a muddle about what to do as ours. Slightly comforted, that is, not entirely reassured.
I’ve also found it important to understand that not everyone is having a difficult time in this period. Some people have expressed a sense of satisfaction in the sense of: “Now you know how trapped I usually feel” and that’s useful for me to discover. Someone, somewhere, may be feeling the benefit of a situation I’m uncomfortable in.
I’m hoping a vaccine will bring this situation to an end because I don’t think it’s good for most of us. I don’t want to catch the fear I feel I’m being forced into feeling. I certainly don’t want to catch the virus, nor pass it on to anyone else but I don’t want to live (or, rather, survive) in this enclosed, unsatisfactory way. Fundamentally, I fear being made to feel afraid. It’s unhealthy.
For now, I’ll do as I’m expected in the hope that the situation will get better.
But, as I wander, clueless as a cloud (thank you, Wordsworth, for the inspiration), through the next few days and weeks until we all receive clearer guidance about our future direction, I shall heed that old saying more closely: “Be careful what you wish for.”
Living in the here and now may not be quite as beneficial as it once seemed.
By Lulu Sinclair