Today is Beltane, the ancient Celtic May Day festival that marks the height of Spring – a time of maximum fertility and a potent moment to put forth dreams for the future. For the Celts it was a time of wild abandon and celebration – dancing all night and staying up to watch the sun rise.
I’m spending lockdown in my childhood home in Hertfordshire looking after my 94 year old mother. Daily walks in the bluebell woods have been keeping me on an even keel.
Last week I hit a wall and even the bluebells couldn’t save me. I was in lockdown meltdown – so overwrought from weeks of isolation that I was a hair’s breadth away from breaking the social distancing rules in my need for contact. Yet I’d been doing everything right: I had a routine, was doing Zoom yoga classes till they came out of my ears, eating properly, listening to mind-expanding podcasts and Marie Kondo-ing the s**t out of my mum’s house.
Then I realised: I was doing lockdown perfectionism, pushing myself too hard to use the time productively – to look after my clients, look after my mum, declutter, come up with a grand theory of the deeper meaning of Coronavirus – without having enough fun or unstructured time. I needed to loosen up and do something that was just pleasure rather than being worthily good for me.
Out came my cheesy 70’s party compilation. I put it on full blast – good thing my mum is hard of hearing – and danced around the living room like a demon to New Order, Heatwave, The Jacksons and A-ha. God, it felt good!
If you’re coming perilously close to lockdown meltdown then cut yourself some slack this weekend and have some pure fun. Ask yourself: What would I really like to do right now? As Mary Oliver says in my favourite poem Wild Swans: “Just let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”.
Deep down we know that despite the challenges of this crisis, it offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset our way of life and create a more harmonious relationship with this beautiful Earth we live on.
What we collectively do now will determine whether we follow the path of catastrophe or transformation and I want to make sure I’m playing my part by staying awake at this pivotal moment in history. What I learnt this week is that this is a whole body process and embracing pleasure is essential – we can’t simply think or angst our way to the future we dream of.
So go on – put aside your “oughts” and give yourself a guilty pleasure this weekend.