It’s April, which means spring is here. I know it doesn’t feel like spring right now, because it’s still bitterly cold out there, and the other day it actually snowed. But there are signs of it, if you look closely. In fact, you don’t even need to look all that closely. A quick stroll through the park will do the trick. Even better if you can get out into the countryside proper.
Last year, I wrote about April, kind of, for the one and only blog entry I posted in 2020. It was really about the walks I took during the first lockdown, and where they led me, mentally and spiritually. I’ve taken the same walk – physically – a couple of times already this month, and the effect has been similarly positive. Despite all the terrible things going on, April always marks a shift in my general outlook. March always tricks me into thinking spring has arrived, but it’s always a false spring because just when I’m starting to raise my head a little higher, it digs me in the guts with something shitty—usually a nasty cold, or a bout of end-of-term-itus.
Anyway, on the handful of walks I’ve taken thus far this month, I’ve noticed a few things, which, for me, indicate the unequivocal arrival of spring, regardless of the distinctly un-springlike weather we’ve been having. I’ve noticed the buds on the twigs of the trees that line the path, and I’ve noticed the cracks in the mud that forms the track of that path. The other day, I also heard the squawk of pheasant from the fields beyond, and I caught a glimpse of two little skylarks, dipping behind the hedgerow beside a public bridleway. These sights, sounds, and – yes – the smells, too – earthy, wholesome, and fresh – each gave me a feeling of hope and revival.
We’re also about to see the relaxing of Covid restrictions, which means that people can finally get their hair cut again, and go to the gym, and do all that non-essential shopping they’ve been missing out on. Funny how everyone will be rushing indoors now the weather’s about to improve. It’s so weird to be talking about the easing of restrictions a year on from that first lockdown period. I guess I should be excited, but if these last twelve months have taught me anything, it’s not to get too excited, too soon, about anything.
I don’t want to tempt fate, but what if this is another false spring, in terms of the pandemic? What if all our summer plans are scuppered? What if, in a few months’ time, we’re all back inside again, forced to “stay local”, or banned from seeing our loved ones? What will we do then? The answer, of course, is… nothing. There’s not much you can do when these things happen. And, to a large extent, that concerns me. I’m concerned about the precedents that have been set in response to this pandemic, by the measures the government have put in place, and the control it has given them. I’m concerned about our response, as a society, to those responses.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t think keeping people safe shouldn’t have been the priority, and I’m not about to get all Laurence Fox on you or call you all sheeple for following the rules and wearing a mask. I’m not that much of a dick. Besides, throughout all this, I’ve done everything I’ve been required to do, behaved responsibly, and acted according to common sense—even if I’ve been tempted to point out the ridiculousness of other people’s reactions at any given moment. And please don’t think I’m making light of any of this, because this last year has been awful, in so many ways, for so many people, and I really hope that we do see a return to normality. It’s just that, well… I’m not holding my breath.
On the flipside, I don’t care. Even before the pandemic, I’d already been feeling that sense of powerlessness—that with each passing day, we were losing control over our own lives, and that we were, increasingly, little more than plastic Subbuteo players, being flicked about on a giant pitch. But that didn’t stop me from trying to plough my own furrow, doing right by others, and generally trying to live a good life. And as far as possible, I’ve tried not to let the pandemic – and everything that’s come with it – prevent me from continuing in this vein.
If things do change, again, and restrictions are “unrelaxed”, I’ll do my best not to let it bother me. Beyond that, I’ll do my best to keep observing—to keep noticing the changes in the seasons, the shifts in my outlook, and the patterns of thinking into which I’m falling. And, in doing so, hopefully, I’ll continue to navigate my way through these confusing times, perhaps even helping others to do the same, with my health and sanity intact.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the sun’s just come out, so I’m off for a walk.