Just reflecting on this time of flux and uncertainty we seem to be living through at the moment and wondering if perhaps there is a silver lining to the pandemic. Has the pandemic given us the gift of slowing down? Or are people working harder than ever with working from home? Has there been a shift to more flexible working arrangements? Has the pandemic and the recession it seems to have caused, given us time to reflect on the changing nature of work or are many of us caught in the stress and despair of unemployment or underemployment? How much work do we need and how much income?
I have to confess I have been working a four day week for several years now and I would speculate that the four day work week would be a viable option for many. I may have a reduced income but have better mental and physical health as a result of the four day week and I am a whole lot happier than I have ever been while working full time. Working from home further removed wasted time in commuting, not that my commute was lengthy but it also meant the car stayed in the garage which frankly is the best place for it. The pandemic lock-down seemed to help many people rediscover domestic joys that had been lost to time poor, modern life, it would be nice to think we could start to move away from such time poor, consumerist existence in favour of a slowed down, mindful one. Instead of working long hours and rushing home to quick processed meals or takeaway we could slow down and spend more time doing the simple things like preparing a meal with family and even better preparing that meal with food we have grown ourselves.
I have always been a bit envious of people who have the time, knowledge and skills to preserve the products of their own labour and it is one of my current projects to re-discover those Grandma arts of preservation. My grandmother used to make apricot jam and preserved apricots that had grown wild from an original tree on the farm. I may live on a small suburban block but I have always tried to at least keep a supply of fresh herbs growing. I am not the best gardener and I am afraid I need fairly indestructible flora to have any hope of success but I have resurrected my little veggie garden with hopes of good crops of tomatoes and a plan to make sauces and relishes with the produce. (I just have to hope my gardening efforts survive the twin hurricanes of Ada and Cassie).
What a difference it could make if we all were able to work a little less and instead spent that time normally given to work, in our own gardens growing some of the food we consume. There is nothing better than the taste of something you have picked from your own garden. Right now we are currently enjoying an abundant crop of mulberries from a mulberry tree I planted a few years ago. Some what fittingly the dogs Ada and Cassie are also enjoying the mulberries. The tree was planted as a memorial to our last dog Lily and both Ada and Cassie have something of a sweet tooth and enjoy stealing the mulberries before I get to them. Perhaps next year we might make some mulberry jam, this year I think all the fruit will end up eaten fresh. I may try and add some other berries to the garden and perhaps aim to make some mixed berry preserves next year. I really want to rediscover those old arts, spend less and make more, good for the soul and the planet in the end.
I recently read Sarah Wilson’s This one wild and precious life: a hopeful path forward in a fractured world. I have to confess considerable support for the ideas put forward by Wilson but I found something lacking in the delivery of those ideas. Despite the message, the book felt a bit narcissistic and self referencing, a bit trying to tap into the zeitgeist, I could be being terribly unfair but something about it did not sit entirely comfortably with me. Although I am sure Wilson is well intentioned and it will be a book that speaks to many, and may in fact do a lot of good. I do applaud Wilson for leading by example and raising the issues. We are living in a time of crisis that is for sure, and many of us are struggling with the demands of this time and the lack of leadership our so called leaders are displaying. I would like to think there are many people out in the world who are aware and consciously working to improve the world in little ways. Quietly advocating for the environment, rejecting materialism and engaging with the world, listening to the many voices that make up this world while educating themselves and others.
Maybe the pandemic is a blessing in disguise, it has certainly given us a bit of time to think and evaluate what is important. For many people it has been a chance to slow down and rediscover simple things and their rewards. I would like to think it may lead to some fundamental positive changes in how we live.