Other people’s words about … not being afraid
I don’t know how to explain this, except that everything in my life changed after I had children. I didn’t understand how to parent. No one really knows how to parent until they have kids but I’ve often worried that I parent scared … I didn’t know there were ways to protect the people you loved and not be fearful. Or that we don’t control very much of anything that happens anyway.
From ‘Elsey Come Home’
by Susan Conley
It might seem odd that I feel an affinity with Susan Conley’s words in the passage above, given that I’m not a parent, given that parenthood hasn’t changed my life in the way that she, as a parent, describes it having changed hers. And yet there is such a resonance for me in this passage. Conley’s words apply, I think, not just to parenthood, but to life. I’ve often worried that I parent scared, she writes — but how easy would it be to change the wording slightly? To say instead, I’ve often worried that I live scared?
I’ve had a funny week this week. I’m still fretting about the way, as the lockdown stage of the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, the quietness of our world has also, inevitably, begun to recede. There were more people in the office at work this week, more bodies squeezed into our small call centre room, more voices speaking into telephones, more colleagues speaking over each other in an effort to be heard. There were more customers in the shops, cars on the road, commuters on the trains, pedestrians in the streets, people on the beach. There was more laughter, yes, but there was also more noise. There was more of everything.
We don’t control very much of anything that happens anyway, Conley writes, and she is right: just as we had no control over the pandemic happening in the first place, so, also, we don’t have much control over its aftermath. All we can control, as always, is our response to these things.
My response is to try to teach myself to carry the quietness I felt blossom inside of me during the lockdown back into the world as it reopens. But I have to confess that this remains a work in progress. I feel as though I have to learn to retune the strings of my heart: as though, when I plucked them during the lockdown, they made music, but now, once again, all they make is discordant, jangling noise.
So I have no solutions to offer in my post this week, except to say: here I am, plucking away, trying to make music, trying to make a song. Are you, too, learning to sing?
Lately I’ve been reading …
- … I feel cautious around all the “Covid-19 is a beautiful corrective experience”-speak: Sarah Wilson questions whether we have really learned anything from the pandemic.
- … An epidemic of fear can occur even without an epidemic of illness: Gina Kolata on how fear, rather than health, may determine the end of a pandemic.
- … Australian governments listened to the science when it needed to flatten the curve of COVID-19. The same approach is needed if we’re to preserve the places we love and the ecosystems we depend on: Matthew Currell, Adrian Werner, Chris McGrath and Dylan Irvine on the Australian government’s lack of response to advice from scientists about the damage that coal mining would cause to our environment.