It’s been 164 days since business as usual was anything like usual. 164 days in varying states of lockdown, a mash of mandated restrictions and self-imposed precautions (as a foresight practitioner I aim to practice what I preach – read the changing landscape and adapting behaviour accordingly before it’s so obvious it becomes mandated).
I am writing from Melbourne, where stage 4 lockdowns significantly change the way we move through the world. Masks are required outside the home. Outdoor exercise is restricted to one session up to an hour per day. The vast majority of stores are closed, and shopping is restricted to a single member of the household fetching necessary provisions once per day. Our movement is restricted to within a 5km radius of our home, and a curfew is in place from 8pm-5am. Socialising in person is a thing of the past.
If you’d told me 164 days ago that this is what the lockdown would look like 5 months later, I would have been afraid, deeply anxious, and grieving the many loses this represents.
Once you start to get past much of the shock, grief, and withdrawal from daily life, what remains (in my relatively safe, secure, and privileged position) is a comfortable, familiar, boring space where most of my actual needs are taken care of.
It’s the world’s most boring one-woman play and I’m doomed to repeat it forever.
Source: Here’s what not to say to people in Melbourne right now – ABC Life by @ABCaustralia
The biggest challenge here is adjusting the frame of reference for what is truly essential and finding ease and purpose with having a small, quiet life that is at odds with our cultural obsession with constant consumption and endless growth. It asks us to become responsible for our own boredom, either leaning into it or creatively evading it by using whatever is at hand. It takes me back to my childhood when my younger sibling would complain of boredom and we would create our own fun – count passing Jacaranda trees in foreign languages, learning to drum with chopsticks, making up elaborate backstories for strangers in the store.
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
Source: Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot
The prolonged necessity of the strange and revolutionary act of staying home, living small, and slowing consumption has a quiet power to it.
It becomes harder to maintain an identity as a consumer when there are fewer places to shop and even less opportunities to flaunt your purchases. We slowly let go of the exhausting charade of being a modern, well put together woman of the world and surrender to our starring role in the world’s most boring one woman play.
Truly inhabiting the fixed, finite space of your home strangles the gluttonous urge to endlessly fill your life with new things. Gluttony requires a bottomless pit, and with fewer opportunities to bring things in and out of your home, your relationship with these things slowly starts to shift – at best learning to appreciate what you already have, at worst forming a creative collaboration to make most of what they can offer. In the world’s most boring one person play, function eats form for breakfast.