Amanda Cooke, The Netherlands
Monday 11 May 2020
Today, for the first time in two months, primary schools opened again here in Amsterdam. The first step towards loosening our lockdown. Its Spring too. The city is coming out of hibernation and the natural impulse to throw open the shutters is difficult to resist. The streets are humming again and the sound of children playing on the school square just now felt reassuring yet strangely unfamiliar after the stillness of past weeks.
The decision to send our daughter to school today wasn’t easy though. We knew that everything possible was being done to protect her and yet there is still so much we don’t know about this virus. Trying to find a level of comfort and a way forward in amongst all of that remains a work in progress.
So much has changed over the past two months. Life has suddenly become simpler and yet so much more complicated. Something that I approached as a sprint has definitely turned into a marathon. Anxiety has given way to feelings of peacefulness, at least some of the time. Just when I think I’m doing great, I realise I’m clearly not. Thankfully, I’ve also remembered that when I feel the walls closing in, I can always find the space I need inside myself if I allow myself to get quiet enough.
The past two months have been a masterclass in remembering. What I can and can’t live without. That writing keeps me sane. Knowing when to act and when to surrender. That the challenge continues to be finding a way forward that allows for both, sometimes at the same time.
Today’s relaxing of the rules feels like the end of something but also the beginning of something much bigger. This unsettling period feels far from over and I have so many more questions than answers.
How do I want to go forward now?
What do I want my ‘new normal’ to look and feel like?
How do I continue to find solitude in an increasingly crowded life?
How do I learn to relax in the midst of ongoing uncertainty?
I do feel like I’m slowly getting onto the track of the answers. That if I take care of inside, the outside will take care of itself.
In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to make decisions moment by moment. That’s all any of us can do. One decision at a time. One day at a time.
With love, Amanda x