The birdsong blues

It all began with a blackbird singing in the dead of night. Last night, to be exact.

Not content with living through the disruption caused by the biggest global crisis known in my lifetime, my menopausal combustion engine is firing on all cylinders, causing restless, energy-sapping, sweat-drenched sleep. And so it was at 3.05am in the deep, dark night that I heard him, singing his wee heart out. Normally, I’d be thrilled to have a secret mid-night serenade, but somehow that little blackbird made me feel so very sad.

He wasn’t to know it, but my blackbird’s song somehow made real what I’ve been unable to grasp so far. On one level I get it, I understand just how catastrophic COVID-19 is. I can see exactly how far the fallout might spread – into every single corner of the world (including the third world and amongst the dispossessed where the potential for apocalyptic devastation is beyond description). I see it, I do. I get it that every minute aspect of daily life will be affected, and for a long time. I understand that we’ll all be victims, one way or another. People, including people I know, will lose their lives to the virus, and every single one of us will suffer financially, emotionally, physically. I even suggest that returning to “normal” is not the best option – if nothing else, Coronavirus must make us think about the profound need for a new normal.

On the other hand, I’ve been in some kind of mental limbo. Like so many others, I’ve been unable to focus, find my way out of the fog or even tackle what remains of the to do list. That’s partly to do with witnessing all of my small business’s work disappear, partly because of trying (and failing, so far) to find a new routine, and partly through the tremendously anxiety-inducing prospect of being cooped up in the house with my nearest and dearest for an extended period. And yes, yes, I know we’re all in this together, but even in the depths of a crisis, we’re allowed to be a bit self-centred, no?

The depths of a restless night is, of course, the perfect breeding ground for worries and fears, but it wasn’t until my tuneful little feathered friend struck up his extended solo that I felt some real despair. For the first time, last night I felt properly frightened for my family’s future. But instead of pacing the house, getting into a state, I decided to just lie there and go with the flow of those feelings, and eventually my blackbird sang me to sleep.

Today? I feel better, more able to face the world and take strength from small things and large. My focus feels clearer and my spirits more buoyed. That said, I reckon the emotional rollercoaster will keep right on running, with peaks and troughs aplenty in the weeks and months ahead. However, I can – and do – take some comfort knowing that you’re all on the big dipper with me.