Lockdown Log

I’m approaching the end of my third week in social isolation / lockdown as I type this. Things don’t really feel as if they’ve changed too much, apart from the obvious lack of freedom to leave the front door as and when I choose. Then again, I wonder how much I really made the most of the so-called freedom I had before this. As with many people, I imagine, I’m now looking back on life a few weeks ago wondering if I really used my time wisely.

This period of relative solitude has given me more time to reflect on things and think about what I truly value in my life. How stuff on which I had previously placed much importance, now seems little more than superficial. I can’t be the only person thinking in this way. I understand many people will look at the situation we’re in as a loss of freedom and that may very well be the case – I don’t know everyone’s personal circumstances. To add, if I may, as it should go without saying that my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered at the hand of this fatal disease. It should not be forgotten that we remain in the midst of a health war. However, when I look at my own life, I’m taking this time to slow down, reflect and think differently about the future. To re-frame what ‘freedom’ truly means to me.

I think about how much of a rush I’ve been in throughout my life up to this point. As a child, I wanted so desperately to sit at the adult table and indulge in their conversations. Far more interesting, to me at least, than playing pretend with my siblings. I’ve noticed parallels to this in my adult life – forever chasing the future without stopping to pause and take satisfaction from the present moment or fully appreciate the wonderful things in my life today. Always wanting more, longing for ‘better’ (whatever that means) and forever looking forward. I know there are others who share this personality trait, who’ll understand it is as much a blessing as it is a curse. Without it, I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am today. Although I do wonder how much I may have let pass me by, in order to reach this point.

Now, I have time to slow down, think and appreciate everything I have around me. A loving family, loyal friendships and a professional network full of interesting and generous people. I notice how much value I gain from the work I do with my clients and how I have lent on them during this period, just as much as they have called upon me. Financial planning is a human relationship vocation, far more than it is or ever will be a financial service. I thought that before; I know it now.

I think about life before the pandemic and the social impact it has had. Was I really free before all of this? Alarm clock, timetables, office hours, lunch, diary commitments, gym schedule, sports calendar. A life dictated by routine. There is comfort in routine, of course, but could this ever really be considered ‘freedom’?

Now, things feel different. I feel more relaxed in my general state of just ‘being’. I have time to meditate, read fiction, take leisurely walks with no real purpose and exercise in my own time. I find my eating habits have improved vastly – rather than popping to the same corner café every day and rushing through lunch, I’m taking the time to properly prepare and enjoy eating my food. I’m also loving the extra time spent with my wife and daughter at home – this is something I will truly appreciate for the rest of my life when I look back over this period, of that I am certain.

As much as I long for life to return to something closer to that we had become accustomed to, I also have hope that we’ll all see the world a little differently at the other side. A world where we stop to appreciate what’s around us, where we take note of every moment of joy, laughter, fear and sadness and truly feel present. We can all use this time to reset our perspective and focus on things that really matter. As light follows dark, we can emerge from this shadow to find ourselves in a brighter place than before.

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