This year I have acutely felt among the lucky ones. Anne and I could work from home. We weren’t furloughed or made redundant. No one in the house caught the virus (that we know of). None of our family back in the US caught it either – until recently, but in that case with a swift recovery.
Of course, there were losses on a lesser scale – no theatre, no museums, no live music. Cancelled visits and cancelled trips. No going to the pub after work.
But then again, we made the most of what we could do. A week in the Peak District. Meeting colleagues for a picnic in the park. Chatting with friends on Chatsworth Road.
And let’s be honest, London in lockdown was wonderful, in a way. Clean air, quiet streets, empty skies. Every few days I would cycle around the city, over London Bridge and then back across Blackfriars Bridge, stopping to marvel at the sight of Fleet Street or Old Street with not a soul in view. Cycling changed from being a way of commuting to being a way to catch an hour of freedom.
This autumn, as the days grew shorter and the news became ever grimmer, I discovered – or rediscovered – the pleasure of lap swimming. When I was younger, I swam for play or I swam to compete. This time around, swimming has become meditation. From the moment I enter the pool and drop under the water, thoughts fall away and I can only and simply be in the moment: Pull, kick, breathe. Pull, kick, breathe. Pull, kick, breathe.