The seedling we, my supporters and I, have spent the last 5 years propagating and nurturing so carefully and thoughtfully, since March, has been forcibly pared back, clipped and cut down. It was only a seedling! It will always feel like it’s only a seedling, even when we, my supporters and I, recover the rubble and slowly strengthen the new, evolved iteration of our model for whole community wellness.
The following raw, deeper-than-you-bargained-for insights are rooted in my experience as the founder of a health and wellbeing social enterprise fighting back against a tide of social, economic, epidemiological curve balls. Though, the content that follows isn’t an update on how well we’ve adapted, pivoted or capitalised on ‘new normal’, in fact, this relates very little to wellness, yoga or the work that we do here in a practical or promotional sense. This here catharsis indulges in the impact of my personal encounter with lockdown and should instead, be received as more of a love letter to a future us.
Doing business in London is difficult at the best of times. Building a business for social purpose and hiking uphill to an invisible horizon during the worst of times is particularly challenging. Consequently though, this hike has been the most surprising, motivating, diverse and redefining leap of faith I’ve stretched my stride across.
The regular fluctuation from constructive and affirmative to gloomy and defeated you feel here in my writing — ‘forcibly…rubble, motivating…redefining’ — will continue, perhaps in even more pronounced peaks and troughs for the next few paragraphs. This undulation reflects the week by week, day by day, hour by hour fluctuations of state I, and literally everybody else, has been feeling over the past 6 months. Flip flopping.
What these glimmers of bright light prove to me is that, at some point, there will be a feeling that anything, once again, is possible, that places safely await, that progress, renewal and excitement are inevitable because nothing else will do.
What there seemed to be during the 2020 troughs, when you reduce it down to its bare elemental format, is a feeling that there is nothing left, or that there is nowhere to go in all the senses that you might go somewhere. No feeling good about the future or even knowing how to open one eye to it when hiding under the duvet. The resulting empty space is a deficit of clarity, joy and hope, of craft, people and togetherness, of levity, ambition and liberty. There are the inevitable dregs of guilt and fear about the passage of time as we wait and wait, and more personally, of doubt and envy about my worth and a cloying aftertaste of the misplaced significance I have allotted my value thus far. It’s disembodying. When I’m at the bottom of this low plateau, wading through this soupy dislocation, I can’t even see the horizon — though my body is organised to know, innately, that it’s there somewhere.
Trying to wade through a political, social, economic and epidemiological mess with but a whisper of the driving force energy that I took so for granted until now means looking for meaning in the few places that remain available to me and my four walls. Phone calls to strangers, health equity research learning, contributing to grassroots perseverance in the face of an increasingly hostile environment — these are the anchors that kept me rational, rudders that help me find a new slipstream to reduce resistance as I move forward.
What these glimmers of bright light prove to me is that, at some point, there will be a feeling that anything, once again, is possible, that places safely await, that progress, renewal and excitement are inevitable because nothing else will do. There will be access to the sense that rich experiences don’t just exist in the past but in a future designed to satisfy, for a moment, our collective insatiable propensity for the extraordinary. When surfing these changing waters, whether at the crest or barrel, gloomy and defeated will dissolve and in its place muscle memory will resume trusting that there will be motivation and fighting spirit once again. To find new fulfilment and pride is to crack the now cold, crystallised layers of lacquer that have so easily slipped, warm, into the mould of this last 6 strange months. Crack the mould.
A love letter to a future us, feeling hopeful and capable once again seems a strange thing to write given we are far from out of the woods. Learning to find life in the pause is the name of this particular game though, one of the most radical lessons many of us have been taught it turns out.