#lockdownledger Keep Calm. Don’t just Carry On

Please stop reading now if you’ve lost anyone to Covid-19 as it rages sorrow and dark change across our world. Nor if the financial or social consequences of lockdown have you at you wits end. This opportunity is not for you. Not yet. 

It was immediately clear when this vile virus first kicked in that lockdown might at least gift millions of us some small reconnections with lost delights in the detail of simple home-based pleasures – cooking, exercising, educating, just living and loving. But listening to the thunderous and heartfelt applause for NHS staff, healthcare workers and carers in my typically tight-lipped and tight-assed street set me wondering whether this binding sense of national purpose might extend beyond lockdown?

Might we come out the other side with a determination to engage with many of the inequalities and injustices that this period of crisis has thrown into high relief? A more united, kinder society recognising and valuing the true key workers, seeing the charade of the gig economy, rejecting industrial scale tax avoidance and embracing lower carbon emissions as a moment to reconsider how we work and how we entertain ourselves more responsibly, etc.  Ok I’m sounding preachy but surely we all want Thursdays’ clapping to convert to something lasting and good beyond a legacy of national debt and toilet paper stories? It’s an optimistically light lens on dark events but one I was gratified to see is shared and championed by others.

So what more clues are there that this time in lockdown really is a chance for each of us to review our values? Ignoring the social scientists I look instead to my generation’s poster boy of not settling for less, Ferris Bueller, Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. Now even life has slowed down to invite an even more forensic look-see at what really matters to us without any of the fear of change that normally prevents us sorting out any sense that something in our lives “just isn’t right”.

Indeed Covid-19 has swept away fear of change with a much sharper fear for our lives. Change simply IS and it’s forcing us to focus on our own sense of self as never before. I wouldn’t presume to know precisely what you might find shifting in your own values and beliefs but I am optimistic that the power of individuals’ awakening in lockdown could scale through towns, countries and even nations. We will exit this crisis to a world where, uniquely in peacetime, nations have shared identical adversity and where petty squabbles seem to matter less.

But not everyone shares my optimism. In recent days I’ve read commentators and pundits pontificating from their privileged perches, sneering at the possibility of lasting personal and social change, dismissing it as fantasy and intolerable.  Their cynicism seems to stem from a belief that the horror of thousands of daily deaths is likely to make the ending of Covid-19 so welcome that we’ll bounce back in relief to how we were, without a glance over our shallow shoulders. 

They cite the lessons of history in the Second World War and other outrages as proof that time passing undermines even the best intentions for change made in crisis.  I say in return that in the context of Covid-19, history really is bunk and these cynics do us all a disservice. The sheer scale and absolute suddenness of the lockdown is coupled with a UK population of free-thinking, tech-enabled and connected stakeholders as has never been tested before through adversity on this scale.  

The hands that clap the health workers are the very same hands that usually hold the technology which could capture and share both why we care and what else we discover about ourselves in this longer-than-I-think we-ever-thought-possible unique period of social separation. All we need to do is record any new thinking inspired by our experiences at this bunkered time – a lockdown ledger tracking our personal journeys and insights. If we do that then even after the first post-lockdown party kicks off, the good intentions and endless possibilities for a new, more positive collective consciousness are not lost because individually we all chose not to lose them. 

I have started my own lockdown ledger, recognising and recording the simple joys I’ve felt again in the natural world around me, my sharper edged love of those close to me, the relationships I’ve neglected now checking to see they are ok and that sense of humility and debt towards those who are risking all to care for and feed us. I will blog but since a lockdown ledger is simply a way to describe then find in future where you have parked your moments of enlightenment, it can be done in any media (e.g. video, ink, audio) with an audience of one or many as suits.  

i.e. Twitter users might tweet a note-to-self tagged #lockdownledger daily, weekly or as things happen around and to them.

Write what you like; I started by asking myself in happier moments why I felt the way I did and what I could I change (start or stop doing) to feel this way more often post-lockdown.

Challenging perhaps but you’ll only be recording what you may already be thinking and feeling? So maybe Thursday at ten past eight when the applause dies down, take out your phone, open your laptop or just reach for a pen and start your own lockdown ledger.  Ask yourself how you felt, why you clapped and what you hope the future holds for these health and care sector heroes. Record your feelings and suddenly your lockdown ledger is up and running for however long it lasts for you to save your thoughts about what you have learned in lockdown and what you might want to change when it’s over. Your ledger will become a set of uncluttered honest beliefs to revisit in a less than certain future.

So now instead of feeling powerless in the onslaught of Covid-19 we can all start writing the notes that might script a better life and maybe a better society. It’s the least that those who we are clapping for deserve. We should do all we can to remember for their sakes and for our own what this time was like and the glimpse we had of the people we were in lockdown and could be again in the future.

 Stay safe. Be kind. #lockdownledger.

Adam / Nick