Photo by Josh Hawkins

For me, the lockdown has been conflicting, a constant imbalance of freedom and frustration. Each day differentiates, at moments I’m running, taking the wild and the unpredictable in my stride; then with the smallest bad placement, the most minor of wrong footing, I stumble and find myself freefalling into the abyss of the unknown. Each day, I tiptoe the present, walking away from a past that I cannot and will not put to bed, towards a future where my dreams seem difficult to see.

My life, like most of the world, has been put on pause. I’ve been taken away from my normality and the routines that I’ve carefully primed to keep my anxieties at bay and dropped in a parallel existence that is out of my control. I’m left stranded, covering my face from the dust that billows around me, peering through my fingertips to witness my hopes and dreams running away into the distance with a girl that once looked just like me.

Prior, I lived a life that pummelled full-steam ahead, a dreamer/a doer/a workaholic/an artistic freelancer. With tailwinds against me, my first 3 years of professional life have felt like a constant uphill struggle. I was battling against organisations and jumping over, above and beyond for opportunities. Searching for the highest rock to stand upon and scream from the top of my lungs that this 5ft3 blonde female is valid and worthy and deserves your respect. Slowly I built my camp, and I found my people; lit by candlelight, we created our beauty. And now the smoke burns from the wick, and it’s not just the camp but the whole mountain that has fallen with me.

The destruction extends beyond our industry. We’re experiencing a global collective suffering. In every home, we are aware of our sacrifices, of the moments we’ve lost, of the dreams and the hopes that will set with the sun and rise in a whole new world. What will we gain? How much have we actually lost? Which relationships, both personal and professional, will remain? Among the flurry of emotions, grief is a constant. I grieve the life I had before, and I long for a normality that no longer exists. I miss my home, my work, my colleagues, my plans for the future. In a neglected industry with a now unstable income, what once seemed like irrational fears are now very much my reality.

Often, I question why I find solace in my helplessness, how someone who grips onto control can be okay with the choice being taken out of their hands. Perhaps it has quietened my mind, forced me to find the courage to shut the door on my inner demons. To turn away their fear and belittlement and dispose of their bullying. I haven’t failed, I’ve had the choice taken away from me. I can just try to do my best, and my best changes with every day that comes.

Some days I’m a whirlwind, I’m a game-changer, I’ve woken up a step ahead of the game. I can see the picture clear as day. Others, I stumble, tripping in shoes that are too big for me, unable to keep up, I sit defeated on the floor. And some days clarity, reasoning and acceptance leave and I’m not present for the day at all.

And where do I seek comfort? The tools I need to soothe and realign me. Well, I find it in pawprints, the stick-clad path of a companion whose affection has no bounds. I hear it in the presence of my siblings as they stride with me, pain and acceptance crunching underfoot as they embark on their own path. My comfort is the tangible, the warmth of my partner’s hand that holds my balance, physically reminding me that he is here, and that is what it matters. Peace sits in fresh footprints, big and small that trek this journey with me. Tracks that take me past my loved ones’ front doors, seeing flowers in their windows, hearing laughter and music pour out of the gaps between bricks and mortar. Safely cooped up in their own nests. Our paths crossing, albeit briefly, as our hands wave at each other across the street, and our hearts flood the silent roads with love.

Anna Holmes from Northern Rascals