For many of us 2022 was a recalibration year. The ordinary things we’d so missed when they were out of reach became routine again: travel, socialising, a quicker pace. With each flexing of the social muscle, each pint in the pub or long, indulgent lunch or trek up a hill or ill-advised mini-golf adventure my own social anxiety gradually receded.
Routines were re-established around newer rituals concocted during lockdown and its “if not now, never” hunger for taking musical instruments from their cases, trying out cooking hacks and inventing compact exercise routines. The working-from-home spirit, uncorked, no longer wants to be trapped in an office cubicle, Monday to Friday. Workers and bosses tussle over presenteeism as demand for flexibility lingers. And so on and on goes the great social readjusting, sorting through what gets taken forward, what’s abandoned.
With less distraction of the onto-the-next-thing kind, staring at four walls during lockdown didn’t allow individuals to escape themselves, either. Onto those walls might well have been projected freeze frames from our own lives at that point in time. Between all that rumination and a grand-scale confrontation with mortality, many of us are now going forth in the post-Covid world with a renewed sense of what’s important to us.
One of the biggest impressions lockdown made on my psyche was the understanding that our time on Earth is finite. Just as I can’t avoid all stressors, I can’t control the bad and good events of life. But the small, conscious decision of what I turn my attention to makes a difference.
Instead of doomscrolling before bed, I now record in my journal the small, joyful things that happened each day. Often they are very small indeed. Sunlight hitting the building opposite, turning it peachy gold. A dog wearing a coat. Pasta for dinner. Reminding my brain that not all is gloomy, I go to bed happier for this practise, and intend to carry it on in 2023.