It was my turn to write a blog post yesterday. We usually have our posts ready in advance and neither of us like to rush. I especially need Belinda to read my posts before I publish, because English is my second language and I often make grammar mistakes. But yesterday I felt under the weather and stayed in bed all day. Belinda has an amazing work ethic and that helps me to stay committed. I do like to be dependable and it is important for me to do what I said I would. I also feel guilty to stay in bed with a head cold when there is a pandemic raging.

To find a subject to write about when my sinuses are this pressurised is giving me some difficulty. You know when you bend over and it feels as if your teeth will all fall out and your eyes are going to pop – that’s me at the moment. We live in an industrial city in a province with the highest levels of air pollution in the world, with the nitrogen dioxide levels being the biggest contributor. That’s according to Greenpeace. We live in the midst of South Africa’s so called coal belt. With many coal-fired power stations surrounding our city. Everyone living here suffers from some kind of chronic ailment. My one son uses a chronic nasal spray. For him and for me it is all in the sinuses. I can’t wait to move away from here. Anyway, enough moaning about that.

Change can be really difficult. Sometimes we don’t have a choice – like being in lockdown, but mostly change start with a feeling of dissatisfaction. An overall discontent with something specific, or in my case – life in general. I have a blanket of annoyance over me and I think I am not the only one. With all activities stopped so abruptly we all are re-evaluating what the things are that give our lives meaning.

In all honesty, I don’t think that I am contributing greatly to life. I do understand that I am important to my family and friends. I know they love me, but is that enough? Our lives are flooded with images and ideas and opinions via social media. Anybody can put anything out there. That is very good, but also very bad. It gives almost everybody an opportunity to contribute to the global consciousness, but not everybody should. And a lot of it is just regurgitating what you see. I want to believe that almost everyone has something meaningful to give to the world. I want to be one of those people. I feel it and Belinda feels it – we want to do things differently. We want to give something to life that is good, purposeful and significant.

I look through social media and see the eco-warriors and the human rights activists – people doing good and exposing evil. And of course, we are seeing essential personnel in a new light. They are the heroes of our time. What will the rest of us be?

Matilda xo

What if?

Belinda and I were chatting on Wednesday (yay for video calling) and we were playing the what if game. What if things change so much during and after this pandemic that there will be permanent positive transformation. It is so easy for me to just look at the loss of income and the feeling of being disconnected, that I sometimes forget that there could possibly be positive change.

What if most fashion and other retail stores had to move their shops online? Let’s say social distancing becomes the norm for some time. In this scenario, only a limited amount of people would be allowed into a mall and into a shop. It would then make sense to sell only online. They would save a lot on overheads and could possibly offer clothes at better prices. What if so many stores had to move online that malls can be repurposed for community projects? Like shelters for abused women or single moms that have nowhere to go. (The idea to convert a mall into a shelter was Belinda’s brilliant idea)

What if then because all the big store are online, we can have small shops in neighbourhoods again? Like a local bakery and butchery. You would buy most of your stuff online, but get personal, specialty goods at your neighbourhood shop. I like the idea of shopping at a family business and getting service because they know me. Chain stores are so impersonal. Wouldn’t it be great if we can have a sense of community again?

What if this can create a better, more sustainable way of living? What if by buying local, we give the local economy a boost and we support our neighbours and they in return support us? Maybe this time away from consumerism will teach us what we really need and I’m living in hope that the world won’t go on a shopping spree when the restrictions are lifted. Well, I think that so many people lost their jobs or are taking pay cuts, that they probably won’t.

This is just my experience in my country (South Africa) and I can’t speak for everyone. I feel a deep disconnect from life in general. I know that the lockdown is partially to blame because we are separated from each other in real life at the moment. This forced “apartness” from people also made me realise that I want to feel connected to others. I want to be part of something that has meaning to me and gives meaning to others.

So how to you feel about all this? Do you think we will pretty much just pick up where we left off? Or will the world look different after we can come out of shelter? I think things will be different – I just hope it’s a good different.

Matilda xo