One of the annoying things my grandmother used to do when I was a child was tidy up my desk. It was a mess, she would say, and few people who know me would now believe that… because I am a bit of a neat freak. In fact, it wasn’t as messy as she made it sound, it simply wasn’t her kind of order. I knew where everything was and I had a system. She had a system too, everything had to be put away. I completely agree with that now… as long as you have a place to store everything. But pilling everything in a heap behind the desk just so it could be out of sight didn’t help me much.
After feeling like my things – clothes, books, school supplies – weren’t important enough to deserve a place of their own while growing up, as an adult I feel everything needs to have its place. it’s been that way from the first moment I moved out on my own. But that’s just me. This sort of thing isn’t for everybody, and I don’t have a problem with it.
Order doesn’t look the same for everyone; neither does chaos. But most of us can probably agree that these are chaotic times we’re living. Dealing with a new, unfamiliar threat is bound to create a certain amount of chaos… or more likely, a certain kind of chaos. Let’s be honest, not only are we used to chaos, but we also thrive on it. I’m talking about a differed sort of chaos… the one that runs our daily lives, that fast paced routine, where we know to expect the unexpected, to be ready and deal with changes and challenges at any moment. Now, however, chaos also means lack of activity, on top of health and economical threats. On one hand, most of us are no longer used to a restriction of individual rights, and there have been some strong reactions… On the other hand, we’re no longer used to being alone with ourselves or even with our loved ones for too long a time.; it’ll make or break relationships, and many of us are already struggling to preserve their mental health.
In an inspiring post, Ann-Christine (Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge – Chaos) urges us to think about and share our interpretation of chaos. The subject may have been chosen weeks in advance, but the timing is perfect. We do need to reflect, and so many of us certainly have the time for it these days. We do need to understand what makes this such a difficult situation to handle, aside from the health threat and insecure future.
I look outside my window and nothing seems different – this particular matter makes it all even stranger. I feel it’s still the beginning of COVID-19 madness here. The number of confirmed patients is going up alarmingly from day to day, but while strongly recommended, social isolation is not yet mandatory. We have no curfews either. Trees are blooming and birds are chirping, going about their spring business as usual. Meanwhile, schools are closed, large public gatherings banned; restaurants, bars, etc. had to close their doors. All part of the new, hopefully temporary, order…
I don’t disregard social distancing though… I’m all for prevention. So I no longer go to the supermarket more often than absolutely necessary. I don’t meet people unless I absolutely must. I don’t use public transportation. I do however take advantage of what might be the final days of freedom for a while and dive into some spring beauty in what I believe to be a safe way. Considering the weather, I’d rather be outside than in a busy shopping centre anyway. So I got in my car the previous weekend and drove out of town, to a forest I know. I then took a nice hike and breathed in the spring without fear of getting sick or getting someone else sick. I took my camera with me and thanks to the telephoto lens I could observe some pastoral sights from a respectable distance. Call me a creep, but hey, we need to adapt.
So this is how I’m dealing with my need for fresh air these days… I drive to some secluded spots and then go for a walk. If that’s not on option and I feel I need the sea, then I park somewhere nearby. I have my camera with me more often than usual and that telephoto lens is getting a workout, but there’s still peace to be found in those moments. Nevertheless, I’ve severely reduced my outside time. Like I said, we adapt. I have it easy compared to others – not only am I not in the risk categories, but I’m an introvert who has no problem scheduling and working from home.
Among other things, chaos means emptiness. This is a scary time partly because of the potential realization that we lead empty lives. What if, left alone with ourselves, we hate what we discover? Forget FOMO, this is fear of not missing out on what we might really be like.
Chaos is also creation, just like spring means rebirth. Nature teaches us yet another lesson, there is well established order in apparent chaotic patterns, hence my choice of photos I’m sharing with you today. It might be a good time to focus on those creative indoors activities, they help us cope with so many issues. I choose to work more on my new book; my potted plants receive more attention; and there are some new recipes and countless books to read on my isolation to-do list as well.
A special someone gave me a 500ml bottle of hand sanitizer the other day. He managed to snag two and I was offered one. Oh… if that’s not caring for someone, I don’t know what is. I reacted the way I normally do when unexpectedly receive flowers… And speaking of bouquets… have you seen that creative toilet paper one? So that’s where all the toilet paper’s going… now we know. From that point of view, it’s not that bad here yet. I refused to panic buy, I just got what I normally would. I suppose the future will tell me whether that was common sense, civilized behaviour or a lack of survival instincts. A brand new order, and a new kind of chaos breeds it. Personally, I can’t help thinking of the “good old” communist days whenever I see empty shelves or I hear about food rationing, even if I am aware it might be necessary in some cases. Even that banal bottle of hand sanitizing reminded me of those awful days when a bar of Palmolive or Nivea soap passed as a remarkable gift… That’s one kind of order – or chaos, depending on perspective – I do not care to ever experience again.
In closing, I’d like to thank Ann-Christine for inspiring us to find beauty in adversity.
Stay well, all of you! Don’t forget the value of prevention these days! Last but not least, since we have some spare time, we might want to use it to learn some appreciation, empathy and gratitude.