It’s no secret: I’m an introvert. I like to keep to myself and am happiest snuggled up in my pyjamas at home, sitting at my desk writing or watching a documentary on Netflix. Going out and having to be places often stresses me out. So imagine my joy when the country started to go into lockdown in late March. My usual café? Closed. My son’s soccer training? Cancelled. Chess club? Nope. Group outings and social gatherings? Hello, Zoom!
It seemed as though all my introvert dreams had come true. While all the extroverts were freaking out, I joyously hit Target Online and ordered several months’ worth of fluffy socks and loungewear. I have to admit, I was being rather optimistic about the time I thought we’d get to spend at home.
True, I was a tad worried we would all get on our nerves soon and that every day would drag on forever. Forced home-schooling while running my freelance business at the same time also seemed a bit daunting. But, lo and behold, we quickly settled into a nice little routine. We all got to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast together before the kids logged on to do their schoolwork and I headed for my home office.
And the silence! The usual humming noise of the nearby highway— no more! No distant sirens, no traffic helicopters. No cars speeding up and down the road, no noisy parties next door, nothing! It was bliss! The world had fallen silent.
I could feel my anxiety and stress levels drop almost instantly. No pressure to be somewhere, no school drop-off and pick-up, no after-school sports training or instrument lessons, no appointments. Just beautiful silence and … nothing. Nothing but time spent at home, as a family. This unusual time was something very special and precious, and I’ll certainly treasure it forever. I love that this enforced break has given us the opportunity to slow down and focus on what’s really important. Cooking a meal together, learning together, just taking it easy, and focusing on the moment.
Now the kids are already back at school, the shops have reopened, the cafés and bars are slowly filling up people laughing and chatting once again. The noise is returning. I feel uneasy already. But hopefully everyone will remember the beautiful silence we got to enjoy for just a while when the world slowed down… and think back to what really matters.
Many people kept insisting they can’t wait to get back to normal. But we ought to be careful what we wish for when we say we are looking forward to things going back to normal. What kind of ‘normal’ do we mean? What exactly is it people are so keen to rush back to? After all, one thing became crystal-clear during this lockdown period: people didn’t miss the material things and shops or their skinny lattes (OK, maybe just a little). No, they missed human interaction and personal contact. That hug shared with a friend. That handshake with a mate. That Sunday lunch shared with Aunty Jo. Simply feeling connected with other human beings.
So let’s be careful not to rush back to the mad spiral of everyday life, but treasure our connections with our friends and loved ones and remember this quiet time without the pressures of the material world chasing us. It will most likely never return in this way, but hopefully it has taught us all something. I already miss my quiet time, and I miss having the whole family home. But I hope we’ll all always remember the time when the world went quiet in 2020. May it serve as a reminder to focus on what really matters and s-l-o-w down.