Pandemic focus on routine and introspection

Font Size:

Do any of you have a phrase or an expression that has stuck in your head over time? I have one and I thought I had the context and the meaning right. But I was wrong.

The phrase is “the world contracted thus”. I knew it came from John Donne, the English poet, so before I wrote this, I looked it up. It comes from a poem called The Sun Rising and it contains that line, speaking about his relationship with his lover and how their relationship was their world, the centre of their being. We all probably know that feeling when we have fallen head over heels in love or lust.

However, I had completely gotten the wrong end of the stick, falsely associating it with the narrowing of our horizons as we age, our reluctance to take on new challenges or travel as we become older and less physically capable. Our world contracts to the pitiful four walls of our nursing home, was often the bleak, pessimistic picture I had in my mind. But now I see it applying in a different way to our new paradigm.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, so many of our routines have been thrown into the air and life seems to have contracted into a few narrow routines and expectations.

We now no longer dress to go to work, sitting in our track pants and Ugg boots, with the occasional business shirt or white blouse on the top, trying to look professional in our Zoom meetings. Our lovely clothes hang forlornly in the wardrobe, wondering when they will be aired and worn again. Buying new active wear over the internet just isn’t the same as the thrill of purchasing a new outfit and knowing when and where we can wear it in public.

As the weather has turned cold and we go for a walk, we wear our puffer jackets, layer upon layer of clothing so that we are unrecognisable, not a chance to flirt or even know who we pass in the street. We are masked, covered up, with no make-up or lipstick to be seen, a vestige of our former selves.

Our conversations become the same with a few close friends we ring up and we constantly say, “I haven’t got much news” and we really mean it this time, rather than just being overly polite. And what news do we have? It takes a strong optimist or a person in denial to convert a lockdown scenario into a raging social life.

We seem to be back to focusing on the very basics of life. “What’s for dinner?” is a question I find myself asking my friends over the phone. I relish hearing what others are making and find myself gaining inspiration from others. My friends and I salivate over each other’s meals and eating has taken on a new joy and pleasure.

Time has contracted and expanded at the same time, a seemingly impossible feat. A week has seemed like a month and a day has vanished with little achieved. Maybe this would be a good time to read a Stephen Hawking book on the relativity of time, but my grasp of theoretical physics is poor to say the least.

Perhaps this contracting of our world will end up being a good thing, a chance to regroup, figure out what we value and who we want to spend our precious time with when our wings are no longer clipped.

Maybe I will remember accurately in future the context of the words of the poem. Maybe …

How are you coping in these socially straitened times? Are meal times a highlight of the day?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


When dignity comes second

Older and wiser, Peter Leith offers his handbook on stairs.

Friday Reflection: School monitors, wags and the first frisbee

YourLifeChoices member John Gough shares his memories of school days in Warrandyte.

Dunny lane – an essential feature of a former time

When there were no flushing loos, dunny lane was a pivotal part of town planning.

Written by Dianne Motton


Total Comments: 0



    continue reading

    Travel News

    Travel refund problems a 'dreadful, dreadful situation': ACCC boss

    Travel-related consumer complaints have risen by 500 per cent since January 2020, with thousands of Australians unable to get refunds...

    Aged Care

    Whistle-blower family welcomes aged care recommendations

    When Barb Spriggs found her husband lying on the ground of the Oakden aged care facility with two nurses standing...


    How do different painkillers work?

    It's easy to assume the only difference between painkillers is their strength. Or that any painkiller you can buy without...

    Food and Recipes

    Cinnamon and Honey Breakfast Jars

    "If you have to be up early and you need something speedy, this is the perfect go-to breakfast," says Bake...

    Aged Care

    It starts with the fundamentals: adequate staffing, adequate food

    There have been 22 public reports and inquiries related to publicly funded aged care in Australia since 1997. Will this...


    Government reveals details of unit established to bust vaccine myths

    With 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arriving in Australia on Sunday, the rollout is starting to speed up,...


    Making it easy to buy Australian

    Research shows that since the pandemic an overwhelming number of Australians want to buy locally produced products to support the...


    What your car costs - the surprising costs of driving a ute or SUV

    Recent research by Finder shows Australians could be paying thousands of dollars more than necessary to keep their car running....