200 days of solitude

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Yesterday marked the 200th day of lockdowns in Melbourne since the beginning of the pandemic. The solitude of lockdown has a rhythm, and despite the shrinking of our worlds to 5km life goes on. It is surprising how much still happens.

I wake at 5am to a dark silence interrupted only by the occasional sound of snoring from the great yellow hound languishing on my bed. 

I suppose I will have to make the coffee again, I think. Sometimes I say it out loud and wonder how I might teach the dog to do the task. Though, I suspect even if Harper knew how, I would still be the morning barista as I would lose patience with her indolence before she with mine.

I make coffee and breakfast. Chicken and vegetables for the dog, muesli, yoghurt and an orange or tangelo plucked from my tree the day prior for me. I climb back into bed with my hoard (the dog will have to get up for hers). 

My plan is always to write, but often I become lost in news stories about COVID, vaccines, politics and the destruction of the planet, or find myself falling blindly down some social media rabbit hole. My morbid fascination with all this unpleasantness so early in the morning confounds me. Though perhaps it is not so surprising considering some of my reading as reflected in my book reviews. My father keeps suggesting Thomas Hardy and Jane Austin to cure my macabre tastes in literature.

It is hard to know whether my staccato concentration is a consequence of social media or COVID brain, but I often become frustrated by it and apply additional effort to focus my concentration, congratulating myself for putting pen to paper and bleeding ink across the page (or screen), even if it is only 200 words. This blog generates a rigid moment of writing discipline each week that I am grateful for having imposed on myself, as even in my laziest writing periods this weekly ritual keeps me engaged.

Mornings are the most precious part of my day. They seem to me always to be filled with hope. 

I leave the house with the dog just before dawn. The first kilometre of our morning sojourn traverses a quiet road running up a north-south ridge. To my left I catch glimpses of the sky burning shades of yellow, orange, pink and red from the sun rising behind the mountains to the east. I spy the occasional ringtail possum crouching in a tree as if enjoying the event. To my right, the  blinking lights of Melbourne gradually fade as the sky brightens. I am transported along this enchanted path by the morning chorus as it shifts and swells and rolls with the growing illumination. I am absorbed and in awe of the beauty around me.

Away from the stories of pestilence, conflict and climate change it is easy to find great pleasure and meaning in the small things of life. An emerging flower augers the coming spring, the pure joy on my dog’s face as she wallows in the muddy waters of the Yarra and explores the bushland, the sight of Tawny Frogmouths roosting high up in a eucalypt. The ninety minute walk is a fortifying elixir and the most precious part of my day.

5 thoughts on “200 days of solitude

  1. Richard Smith

    Good stuff Rachel, I’m almost as happy with Tolkien as with Hardy, although I admit I haven’t read Hardy for 60 years or more. It doesn’t matter as the blog is as cheerful and uplifting as your morning walk with not a hint of mystery or murder (especially of fathers!). Good photos too. Best thing I’ve read all day. Dad xxx

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Eugenia Castro

    Love this article or blog. I like the concept concept of solitude. I live it most days. Yet, when I try to write… I do not remember how to write it. It is the similar word in the both languages I speak. It is almost my brain does not want to accept reality; though my mind uses the state of mind as survival. In the other hand I m so grateful that I had managed to slow down and my routine it is small and simple: travel to work, see clients, ignore politics behind my covid safe room. Back home cook and small talk with the kid at home. My life.
    Grateful, I m home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I ha e been reflecting a lot on being alone as a human state. Even in the company of others we are alone in many ways despite our best efforts to really ‘know’ others. It fascinating that the word is the same!

      I have taken to doing a lot of cooking and am really enjoying it as a self nourishing activity.

      Liked by 1 person

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