A World on its Knees

April 20, 2020

Before I started typing this, my mum walked into the room and I asked her ‘what is your plan for today?

Note: it’s take me all day to write this because I had to work at some point.

Sighs, ‘I don’t have a plan. This virus has taken away the ability to plan.’

She sits around for a bit, complaining about something or the other and during this little exchange she comes up with a plan to keep her occupied and abruptly leaves the room as she says ‘this could drive you mad!’

Her life a stringent on a plan….

For all of us, our lives revolve around some version of a plan, strict or lax, you could argue that there are those of us who just go with the flow, but here is a thought, behind every just going with the flow, the plan was to just go with the flow, so right back to where we started, our lives revolve around some version of a plan. 

What did you plan to do today? What did you plan to do this week? What did you plan to do with this month? What did you plan to do with the months that have passed before COVID-19 was a thing? What did you plan to do with days, weeks and months ahead? What did you plan to do this year?

Geeez, I for one had a lot of plans and they all came to a screeching halt!!! I am now working from home, I am lucky enough to do that and make that kind of decision for my staff. I have struggled with working from home. I have good days, I am pumped, ready to conquer the world from the dining room table and I own the damn day and then I have bad days, I literally don’t want to do anything; I want to eat, read and watch bad TV. Then I am riddled with guilt heavy feelings about being a lazy bum and so the next day I back to being super woman to make up for the previous day. This of course is a result of perfectionist tendencies; one can’t just be sitting around doing nothing when they should actually be working.

 I am hermit by nature. I am the person that turns down hanging out with human beings so I can hang out by myself. Yes, please, someone scream out INTROVERT. So I am liking, NO, loving, the not meeting people part. It’s glorious. No one gets to frustrate me. But also just so we are clear a couple more weeks of this and I will crave human company that is not my family because surprise, surprise, introverts do, from time to time require a higher frequency level of stimulus to stay sane before we can retreat into our favourite pastimes. With the grace of God, COVID-19 will not do me in, social distancing will not do me in, it will be the uncertainty of my days that will knock me out. Oh how I despise uncertainty, I like to control things. Once upon a therapy session, she said ‘you can’t control everything, embrace the uncertainty!’ I have come a long way since once upon a therapy session but default settings are so hard to let go of, so watch me still try and control things and I believe that is why I am struggling with the good and bad days. There is no definite plan.

This year, I planned to travel, exercise, blog more, write and at the perfect alignment of the stars, do that PhD I have been singing and preaching about. I don’t know why I want to do that to myself but I actually do, maybe I will get to explain the reasons for it someday. For anybody who knows me well, you read exercise and thought WHAT? No, you did not read wrong. I said exercise. For those of you who don’t know me well, you have gathered that I was not a fan of putting my body through extraneous activities deemed unnecessary by yours truly. I stayed away from exercise like it was the plague. I was told of the benefits, bribed with chocolate and food and it never worked. Which is redundant bribing someone with food and chocolate in hindsight considering we are asking said person to exercise. Thank you for the chocolate and food!!

And then sometime towards the end of 2019, I made the healthy logical decision to start exercising, a whole epiphany! No, it was probably the fact that my heart felt like it wanted to burst out of my chest after walking 100m up a small incline. Terrible form and I realized I was not doing myself any favours. So I bought myself some exercising clothes, shoes and a bottle that said ‘remember why you started!’ I needed motivation to carry on with this ludicrous idea or notion or whatever because in my book I had just gone and lost my whole damn mind. But I was determined, so, come 2020, I went for my first non-coerced walk, and I went on another and another and another. I keep adding the number of kilometers I can walk, pushing to do more, pushing my body to do more. We are four months into 2020 and I am carrying on. I am not perfect at it, I do have my lazy days like today. Some days the lazy wins and some days I kick lazy right out the window.

So what happened today? I didn’t sleep well, I was waking up on the hour all night long. The audacity and downright rudeness of the spirit that was keeping me up and yes I believe in the supernatural. The light and warm spirits and all the things that go bump in the night.  At 4am I decided I was too tired to go for my morning walk, so I switched off my alarm, telling myself I that I needed to sleep in and get some rest so I can be functional for the day ahead. Yeah, my body was not having that, working on a one hour cycle, I was awake at 5h30. I tried to force myself to sleep, telling myself a myriad of things, one of which was I will go for a walk in the afternoon.

A little information about afternoon walks:

I don’t like them!

  1. I don’t like being watched; I only have the capacity of being watched by the handful of people I meet in the morning
  2. I don’t like battling it out with the afternoon sun. The heat and I don’t really have a great relationship.

After a quick assessment of these fact, I realized I was lying and in that moment Rachel Hollis author of Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant To Be’ set me straight as she talks about not breaking a promise made to yourself because if you can do that it is so much easier to start breaking all the other promises not just to yourself but to others too so I jumped out of that bed, ended up taking a route with difficult terrain, on the other side of that walk I was energized and here I am banging out this post after a day of phone calls and zoom meetings! I feel like a total badass!

This post, falls squarely in the blog more category and I did not do that! I have been telling myself I will write more, I will write after work, I will write over the weekend, I will write, the lies I told myself. To be honest I have been plagued with the ‘I am not good enough syndrome,’ my writing is not good enough for people to read, ironic coming from someone who was preaching trust yourself to one of my closest friends just a couple of weeks ago. Recently, my aunt Mary said ‘I noticed you’ve stopped posting your pieces on Facebook!’ With all the guilt that plagued me, I said I have not been writing and she said ‘get on it.’ Just the push I needed.Love her. So here I am writing.

When we were coming back from Botswana, side note: I was supposed to share the last leg of our trip, never got round to that. I stopped writing. We have covered that: we missed our flight, not of our doing but Air Botswana decided to merge our 9am flight with a 7am flight which means we miss our connecting flight from Johannesburg to Malawi. Joy! And Air Bots did not have the decency to inform us of the changes. So to get back home we went up to Addis Ababa and flew all the way back down to Malawi because that was the only available flight. Well done, Air Bots. Standing O! To not feel the full extent of the change in circumstances, my dad, sister and I embraced this as an adventure. My mother on the other hand, that woman needs to learn to calm down, take things in stride, the woman has blood pressure for the love of God, if that pressure was not outside normal range I would be very surprised! This is what I said “hey, it’s a bit of bad start to 2020, but it is a going to be a good year, there is a good vibe around this year. Shake it off.” Boy how wrong was I?

To be fair the voice in my head said ‘yeah, no, it’s not going to be.’ I did not listen and I did not tell my mum about the voice in my head.

I wish I had the same conviction I had about 2020 as that first day of January but it is hard to do so in face of so much death. The world is not what it used to be, it is caught in the clutches of fear and anxiety. Personally, I do not believe in fear, I am not saying I do not get afraid, I do but I do not let it take over. I am not saying feeling fear is bad, I am not saying you should not feel fear, we have all never lived through a time like this, so I believe that your feelings; however you may be feeling, those are valid and should not be invalidated. What we can do is find ways to work through those feelings. Whilst everyone was panic buying essentials, I was panic buying books because that is my happy place. Also all the buying of essential was done a little over a week ago before your truly, head of state of Malawi announced a lockdown which is well away to being successfully protested against regardless of the behind the scenes telling of government officials to stop working with immediate effect as of today.

So outside all the preventative measures we must adhere to and the things we can do to reduce our levels of anxiety in whatever shape they show up in, find the thing that grounds you, that works for you and somehow, hopefully we see each other on the other side of this pandemic.

What did you plan for this year?

It may seem like all is lost and all we needed to do was dependent of different groups of people in different parts of the world and we can’t fulfill our plans or dreams but I am pretty sure that on your to-do-list there is something you can still do. It is not a competition, if this moment gives you a chance to rest, then rest. If this moment gives you a chance to write, paint and compose then by all means write, paint and compose. If this moment gives you a chance to reconnect with family and friends then please do that. Do it for you.

I will stay exercising and by the end of this year I will be the person who exercises at least twice a week and I will be proud because that is what I set out to do for 2020 because I can still control that. I will blog and by God I will write that short story.

And as sad as all of this is, I get the feeling the world wanted to heal itself, which can only be done if everyone just stops and breaths. I mean there is no smog in New Delhi. if that is not the world healing then I do not know what it. So in the meantime work as much you can, sleep, read, watch TV and most importantly stay safe.

With a World of Love,

That Malawian Girl from the Northern Mountains

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