A Tangled Path – Where Do We Go From Here?

As we move through these strange times, I suppose we each have our way of dealing with what’s going on. While we are linked on one level by the shared experience of lockdown, each of us has our own set of circumstances to deal with in how we find our way forward.

I found it difficult to focus the first few weeks of lockdown. Perhaps I was tapping into a larger, more generalised global anxiety, or simply finding the constant stream of news upsetting – or perhaps a mix of both. Whatever the case, I couldn’t do much writing, only able to sit for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. I concentrated on short stories, working on some I already had, improving them for competition entries. Otherwise, I busied myself around the house, doing laundry, cleaning, tidying, baking, working out how to get food for myself and my family, cooking, clearing out cupboards… you get the idea.

And walking. Each day, the dog and I would head out for our state-sponsored walk, and I’d try and let my mind go free as well, releasing anxiety. It helped, a little.

Then April began and, with it, a commitment I’d made to do Camp NanoWrimo with a group of likeminded writers. It wasn’t our first time in the cabin together, and it was a welcome change of focus. It also forced me to write. My goal was 20k words, a big chunk of the first draft of a new middle-grade novel I was working on.

And I did it. I reached my goal with days to spare, the satisfaction at seeing my word count creep up, day by day, sometimes by only a couple of hundred words, keeping me going. As did the group I was in. All of us had goals to achieve, and each of us, though we lived in different countries, were dealing with lockdown and the impact of the pandemic. It was nice to check in and see how they were doing, to congratulate each other with every badge achieved. And it got me writing again.

Now it’s May, and lockdown continues, though things are beginning to ease. I do think this will be the shape of things for a bit longer yet, though, until a vaccine is developed. What was strange has almost become normal, now – it’s interesting how quickly we adapt to changes in circumstances. It seems normal now to go to the supermarket and see hardly anyone in there, to see empty shelves, to wave hello at people from across the road but go no closer. Even though I live on the very edge of London, close to the busiest airport in the world and two major motorways, when I go out for my walks, most days, all I hear is birdsong. The skies are clear, the hedges filled with butterflies and buzzing bees as large as my thumb. There seem to be more flowers than I remember seeing, too.

I wonder what the world will be like when we come out of the other side? I wonder whether there will be lessons learned, not only about the way we treat the other creatures with whom we share the planet, and their habitats, but also the other lessons. About how people who actually keep the world going are often paid less than anyone else. About how much we pollute, simply by living our lives – the pictures of clear skies in India, of cities seeing the Himalayas for the first time in years, are proof of how quickly things can change when we change our behaviour. And what about corporate culture? Big expensive offices may become a thing of the past, as many companies have realised they can still run with people working from home. Why pay for someone to have a desk in an office when they can do the same work from the comfort of their home?

There will be divorces and babies and love stories and breakups. There will be people taking leaps, trying something new. There will be business failures, and success stories. In twenty years’ time, our children and grandchildren will be learning about The Great Pandemic in school. But what their world looks like depends on how we rebuild this one. Which path we choose.

Hope you’re all staying safe and well – let me know how things have been for you in this strange time xx

(Photos from a recent dog walk – thank goodness for the lovely weather we’ve been having!)

Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

23 thoughts on “A Tangled Path – Where Do We Go From Here?

  1. There’s an awful lot being said and written about the New World we will find ourselves in, and how it could be better than the old one. The will is certainly there from what seems to be a huge number of us Average Joes, but it will all hinge, unfortunately, on what politicians and industrialists decide will happen.

    • That’s the sad truth of it, isn’t it? We’ve created this society where the will of the few dictates the fate of the rest of us. I hope for positive change, nonetheless – I hope our collective will is strong enough to make it happen 🙂

  2. Yes, the future we shape is up to us… and, as Mick says, whether the politicians take any heed at all of what the people they represent would like to see change.
    I have to say, I have been enjoying the relative peace of lockdown… but I miss seeing the people I love. xx

    • Yes, agree, Sue. I’m also enjoying the peace and quiet, and the feeling of not having to be anywhere at a particular time. But I do miss my family, and going out as well. I hope something positive comes of all this, although I feel now the govt is trying out its original ‘herd immunity’ policy without actually stating that’s what they’re doing. We shall see… xx

  3. I, too, am enjoying all the birdsong as well as the relative lack of noise from air and highway traffic. I live in a neighborhood with sidewalks (not a given in U.S. communities) and people are taking walks around the block (with and without dogs) more than before. It’s kind of nice to not feel obliged to talk when you see someone, that you aren’t snubbing them if you only smile and wave. I’m not eager for things to “reopen,” as I expect it will be done out of impatience, which means in haste and badly.

    • It is nice, isn’t it? A real silver lining in all this awfulness. I hear things aren’t too good in the US, though – I really hope they don’t rush to reopen everything too quickly, for all your sakes x

    • Thanks so much! It’s been nice to find my writing feet again, so to speak – though it was a rough few weeks getting there. Hope you’re getting some writing done too 🙂

  4. Yes, good post, Helen. Hopefully some things will change for the better, at least some measure of appreciation of what is of value. However, humans seem to be programmed to repeat the same mistakes over and over…

    • Thank you 🙂 And I hope we can lift and grow from this – humans are quite good at doing that, but we also, as we say, make the same mistakes over and over before we learn our lesson. Let’s hope we’ve learned it this time… 🙂

  5. Hello Helen and thank you for sharing your lovely pictures and words. I am glad you have found a surer path back to writing. I don’t think you are alone in feeling lost in the early weeks, as I did too. I miss hugging my loved ones, as we all do, yet I hold back from getting ‘back to normal’, as there is a new world to craft, as Mick says. I pray we don’t rush to re-build in haste and make more of a mess. Happy writing, lovely and much love flowing to you all. Xxx

  6. Pingback: A Tangled Path – Where Do We Go From Here? ~ Helen Jones | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  7. Nice to hear from you today. I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. Hopefully, we will learn something from all of this. Whether it involves enabling good employees to use a more convenient work schedule, or perhaps observing how the skies have cleared briefly.

  8. A very thoughtful and thought-evoking post, Helen. You’ve articulated what so many of us are wondering at present. For once, we’re sharing a similar experience in countries like ours and wondering what we can do, together to avoid a return to the harmful parts of the status quo.

  9. Hi Helen, nice to read your blog. It’s such strange times we are taking each day as it comes. Trying to do the little things to keep sane: exercise, walk, bake, repeat! And I’ve been busy writing my COVID19 diaries on my blog, plus featuring authors on the topic of Isolation during this time. If you would like to feature, let me know. Marje x

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