I’m not someone who thrives on routine. For the nine months before the first lockdown I was in London three days a week and at home in Norwich for the rest: I barely ever got the same train to or from home, I would leave my London flatmate’s house at different times each morning as I was heading to different venues across the city for meetings, conferences or to travel to other cities.
And then life collapsed in on itself, and we all stopped going anywhere. I spent the first six months worrying I hadn’t washed up my coffee mug on my desk, such was the suddenness of my abandonment of my workplace.
it helped that I have a home with room enough for the family members suddenly thrust into working alongside each other, and a garden (the weather made it a lot more tolerable too.)
But every day was the same. And I began to notice the effect it had on me: like sleeping on a silk pillowcase what initially felt comfortable began to be unnerving. The smoothness was slippery and suffocating.
I began to use the word ‘texture’ to describe what I was missing; I realised that having cold feet on a crowded train had been providing contrast to being curled up on the sofa on a Saturday morning. Wearing dresses in the office contrasted the yoga clothes I needed before I started my day working from home.
It’s felt like a helpful insight for me, growing my awareness of what helps me to thrive (‘consolations’, as St Ignatius called them) and what drains my energy and motivation (‘desolations’).
The spiritual practice that has helped me stay in that place of awareness has been the examen, which I’d valued before but embraced in a new way during lockdown. And now as we emerge it’s important for me to keep in touch with where I find energy so I can craft the new normal for me, having grown through this time.
(Oh, and thankfully when I eventually got back to the office to collect my things, I had washed up my coffee mug.)