It was months ago. Well, two months. But it feels longer than that, as I’m sure it might for you as well.
I was getting ready for work and listening to ABC Melbourne radio, when an announcement was made that Victoria was in a state of emergency lockdown. Whilst I didn’t – I couldn’t – know the extent to which our lives would change as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, I did know that we were at the beginning of something completely unique to our collective lived experience.
In the immediate weeks that followed, my colleagues and I were in a state of scrambling to triage clients – all of whom were struggling to design a way forward for their own businesses as health regulations changed on a daily basis. In those early days, Zoom meetings were not as frequent (and normal) as they are now. The evenings were filled with HouseParty calls with friends, all of us wondering at this new world, and agreeing it would be some time ’til we were out of it. More recently, I find I’m Zoom-ing with mates only a couple of times a week; to be frank, I’m exhausted by all the screen-time during the day and want to spend my evenings reading and streaming TV.
Ruby Assembly have been fortunate; our clients are in professional categories which have remained in demand throughout the crisis; lawyers, accountants, estate agents, cleaning businesses and the like. We focused on helping our clients communicate more regularly with their audience, which seemed calming for them and effective in terms of their marketing strategy. If we had been in fast moving consumer categories such as food or fashion, our portfolio would have been profoundly impacted; as it is, we’ve taken on new clients through the pandemic. I consider us lucky (and my colleagues talented and prolific writers in a hard corner).
Now, it seems that a softening of restrictions is nigh. We’re about to begin the road back to normal – whatever that new normal might look like. My world – and I suspect all our worlds – has become much smaller and quieter during this time. I sleep deeply and wake up around 8. I breakfast leisurely (there’s been a big increase in bacon and eggs and french toast), and begin work around 9:30 am or 10:00 am. In my new home there’s no formal study of which to speak as yet, so I’m working from the kitchen table. I’ve purchased an inordinate amount of cat toys, because I enjoy watching my pets play so much. I might go for a walk during the day, or at around 5:00 pm. Then it’s time for dinner. The days are similar, but I can’t say I’m bored by the rhythm. In fact, I’ve noticed that my brain is better at being in the moment than it was when my agenda was packed to the gills with meetings and goings-on. I can sit and observe in a quiet, peaceful way I’ve not been able to previously. Rather than seeing this as a the sign of an empty mind, I recognise it as a sign of unagitated being. It’s quite pleasant in its own way.
It is this ability to be in the moment that I hope we’ll be able to bring with us into the new normal. I expect restrictions around workplace attendance and socialisation will be softened today, and I look forward to returning to the office. But a risk to health remains; I have no interest in encouraging either colleagues or clients to visit offices before they feel ready to do so. I hope we all manage to continue to take things gently and slowly, with changed expectations of ourselves and one-another. In many ways, the reduction of activity and demand for ‘results’ feels like a process of regaining equilibrium.
Wishing you, your families and your businesses a safe and peaceful re-entry into the new normal. I’m curious about this new world, and how it will continue to change us all.