08 May In Captivity: Week 7 – Not forgetting the anger
I can feel the new rhythm settling onto my life, grafting itself into place like a broken bone mending itself, knitting together but at a slightly wonky angle. Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Good, I suppose, on an individual level because it makes confinement easier to accept. If I put any notion of resenting it to one side for a while the whole thing is less troubling and I can just get on with it and flit effortlessly between a comfortable home and a small sunlit garden. It’s alright for some as they say. It’s even alright in the rain. But it may also be bad on an individual level; I sometimes wonder if I’ll want to return to the rushing about that life used to involve – though whether or not that’s a bad thing is, I suppose, debatable. More seriously, though, by adjusting to the new rhythm and putting the resentment aside I worry I might be letting go some of the anger. Which is a nice thought – who likes being angry all the time?
But it would be bad to forget the anger altogether. It has its place here. There’s a lot to be angry about with the numbers of deaths climbing and our ‘leaders’ blaming everything but their own decisions, indecisions, incorrectly addressed emails, confused messages, preoccupation with other things in the critical early weeks, other things that felt momentous and painful (at least for me) at the time but nothing like this. Nothing like this at all. Like Brexit, Remember Brexit? If it weren’t so tragic I swear I could laugh at the memory.
I remember when my mother reached her late 80s and the frailty of age and illness overtook her. Her mobility was so compromised that eventually she couldn’t really go out but declared herself very content to be at home. How rapidly her confidence receded like the last ebbing tide on an ancient atoll that finally slips into the sea. Once gone, she never got it back. This popped into my head the other day as I observed myself easing into the new state of living and saw that not just accommodating the simplified rhythm but positively embracing it is not all good. I don’t want to become over-cautious, fragile of spirit, unadventurous, imagining dangers with every step I take beyond the front door. I certainly won’t become immobile if the regime of high-impact aerobics and abs-grinding Pilates have the effect they should. But the other stuff? Easy to see how it can happen.
Right there I drifted off the subject of anger. Just in the space of a paragraph. Easily done.
Though I limit my consumption of daily news, I hear or see enough to wonder about the way the media reports again and again, and surely with a counter-productive effect that deadens the impact, the same stories. Take the whole personal protective equipment (PPE) business. Who could not be horrified at the early reports describing how staff were having to care for patients without adequate protection? The first reports shocked me. But when they keep coming, day after day, another disaster, more failed deadlines, the same excuses, eventually, in a way, it becomes old news. You acclimatise like you do to a bad smell, you switch off to the scandal of it as it blends into the new normal and the sense of outrage you felt at the beginning, which should by rights be greater now as the problem remains unsolved, starts to lessen. You need to work hard to keep it alive, to not switch off.
If you didn’t read it, here’s a link to a compelling article in the Observer last Sunday by Rachel Clarke, a physician working in the NHS.
Yes, I clap every Thursday and will continue to do it. Yes, I think they do a wonderful job with such skill and commitment. I’ve always thought that. And I remind myself that they are doing their job. What makes them heroic is the long extra hours they volunteer to do and the way they put in their shift despite the lack of protection. Heroism is their plight, imposed by the neglect of others.
So dangerous, to lose sight of the anger. To be nudged into complacency and a relieved acceptance as the glories of late spring burst around you, the garden throws up forgotten treasures each day, food is stashed adequately in fridge and cupboards and the pension lands safely in the bank account. Maybe people are right, the anger isn’t for now. But so dangerous to lose sight of it.