From time to time there is an advantage to taking time to reflect, time to take stock and to ponder on whether time really does fly past faster than it used to. An advantage of being #vulnerableage is having a long lifetime upon which to ponder!
In my first blog post Good Intentions, I was determined to seek advantages of Hunkerin’ Doon to those of us labeled #vulnerableage. That was nine weeks ago. With the advantage of hindsight, my To Do List may have been a bit ambitious. There are very few ticks on the page now filed in that kitchen drawer. The vague plan was to bridge the short gaps between the busy times tending to the list, by revisiting shelved projects and exploring new interests. Does anyone else find that the gaps between busy have lengthened to accommodate the Prefer To Be Doing List? Is it possible that, in spite of many more hours of daylight now than when this Hunkerin’ Doon began, the hours in the days are fewer? The Thursday Clappings and the weekly blog posts seem to come round very quickly. Are your weeks flying past?
Of course, it has to be acknowledged that the perceived acceleration of the oven clock between breakfast and the bedtime chamomile may be a function of the aging process. Whatever the precipitating and perpetuating factors, it is a phenomenon worthy of a few moments consideration.
Among my peers, it is so often heard and generally accepted that a short time following retirement, diaries are so full, the question relating to ever having time to work is voiced. I am now beginning to question when I ever had time to meet all the commitments usually in my diary when life is normal. But inevitably that begs me to question what it is I do all day. Response differs according to circumstance but undoubtedly could be summed up by “Not sure, but it has taken the whole day to do it.” This is usually followed by a talk to myself about how grateful I should be that I have no great concerns, apart from what is going on outside my privileged safe haven. I question who is doing what about this situation. What am I doing about it? Not much of import to the wider world, but because of the support I share with family and friends, and the interests I maintain, I can only offer willingness to hang on in here for as long as required.
There has been much said about the detriment of isolation to mental health, especially to the lonely elderly, and what should be done now to lift restrictions. The mental health difficulty experienced by anyone who has worries and ailments of any nature should not be underestimated, but that shouldn’t mean the effort from those of us able and willing to make the best of it, in the way that suits us best, can’t be viewed as a contribution to the cause of reducing the spread as soon as possible. Apologies if that sounds a bit like “I’m alright Jack”. We will all have our own way of finding the way to do what we can. Contributing takes many forms and it won’t have taken long to work out what we are able to do to assist.
It may be the time for me to practice my time management skills. I have redeveloped a close relationship with my sewing machine and produced several face coverings, each made to the exact measurement of the #vulnerableage friend recipient. The advantage for me was that I could spend as much or as little time on the task as I wanted, because any other demand on my time was made by me. I have unending respect for the parent or parents who manage to send their children to school, groomed and fed as best they can, then take themselves to work, be efficient and effective in what that asks of them, before taking on the parental and household duties when the working day ends. They manage to find the time to check up on their auld yins as well. It is very likely that many of us who have reached #vulnerable age did all of that too when our stage in life matched theirs, but somehow it seems more difficult these days. Doubly difficult during this time of lockdown and all the added pressure that puts on families. I wonder if the added difficulty is due in part to the incessant pinging of the smart phone messages. “Where are you? When will you …? Have you done …? Can you …?” I have always found it puzzling that many feel the need to announce their very imminent arrival home. The only benefit I can imagine of the “I’ll be home in ten minutes” is that it gives enough time to banish the illicit lover – having time for an affair is taken as read in this scenario.
We all accept that the sense of time, like the sense of direction, is present or absent in varying degrees according to the individual. There’s always one friend who will be very late because her perception of how long it takes her to decide which outfit is grossly underestimated. I know one person who perpetually arrives at the very very last minute, when everyone else is seated, settled and poised at the Bridge table, before the clock is started for the first hand. I will just pretend I don’t remember his name! But I do remember the great sense of achievement when I learned to read the time. The big hand is at 12 and the little hand is at 3 = 3 o’clock. I remember the pride in checking the time on the mantlepiece chiming clock with the Town Hall clock across the road. Do today’s children do that or is it all digital and 24 hour? I still think that 17.00 seems much later than 5 o’clock, but then I continue to weigh myself in old money because kilos give a very high number.
I found it difficult to understand how, at the start of my school summer holidays with her, my Granny could say “It’ll flee by afore ye can wink.” when there was always another day and another, until the last one, when she would try to soften the parting by giving assurance that “I’ll be seein’ you afore lang. It’ll be Christmas afore we ken it.” It never felt like it was going to be soon. Another Granny in our family once completely confused two little impatient boys with her request to “Jist gie me a wee mintie”. Misunderstanding her instruction to wait a minute, because the Minty with which they were familiar was a particular type of chocolate biscuit, they were upset because they didn’t have one to give . That story has stood the test of time and among others, can still raise a smile as a family treasure.
Travelling has afforded us all the experience of different time zones, different cultures and different attitudes to time. Swiss precision in legendary. I lived for several years observing Lagos Time, but as newbies, an invitation was extended to us to come for dinner and the time clearly stated as 7.30pm. Finding out the hard way, we soon learned that arrival was never expected until 8 o’clock at the earliest. We realised our faux pas when we arrived on the dot to be greeted by the hostess in hair rollers, embarrassingly trying to explain. It did not take me long to suss out, when settling in to work in the Emirates, that answering any request to me for urgent attendance at anything, inevitably turned into a hurry up and wait.
There will be those who feel the wait to end this need for Hunkerin’ Doon is interminable, and some who can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. For a particular reason or for so many different reasons but each a perfectly legitimate one, we all will know what this hunkerin’ doon time has given or cost us. We hear daily, almost hourly, of the peak, the plateau and the second wave. We have to process our own thoughts and opinions on use of Tracing Apps, the feasibility of social distancing in the queues which will undoubtedly form for long awaited whatever we have missed. Honestly, it would be so easy to spend longer wondering about all the repercussions of this pandemic but that will need to wait until another time. Another day has flown by.