All the time in the world

by Bea Toews

Some people are fortunate enough to have a safe home, enough good food, some form of transportation and enough friends to help them weather the storm of Covid-19. I am one of those. I live in a small ocean side town in southern Australia, and it is beautiful, clean and relatively quiet after the tourist season.  I count myself very lucky. 

I like to be busy, to use my time productively. I retired reluctantly and set about learning Thai, building a house in Hua Hin and travelling extensively to use the time I suddenly found on my hands. My idea of bliss is to do three different things in one day. When I travel I actually make a chart and at the end of the day, fill in the parts of the day. Maybe that is the teacher in me. No, not maybe. It is the teacher who makes the schedules. 

Most of my life I have been lucky and productive and active. Not so now. Now I am suddenly not busy at all. My physical movements have been “cabined, cribbed, confined” not through any choice of my own. All the time I want and then some. 

“Life is not a dress rehearsal.” Is what I think. I have created a three part isolation day. It is not for everybody but it is for me, and it seems to be working fine. As you will see, there are actually four parts and one is optional.

In the morning I exercise. I do XBX – an old Canadian air force series of exercises; I do a walk or run tape and I have a few other exercises. Some days I do Pilates as well. Then a leisurely shower and equally leisurely breakfast, I tidy whatever needs to be tidied in either the garden or the house. That is my morning, part 1 done. (I have to confess the house and the garden are quite small: so, it is not an onerous task. Both the house and garden are tidier than they have ever been). This part is not optional.

In the afternoon I exercise my brain. Part 2 is learning a language on DuoLingo. I think there are better online platforms for learning a language and when I have finished DuoLingo. I will switch to another. Hopefully the world will be open to travel again, and the language learnt will be useful. 

I am also studying one of thousands of courses offered on Coursera. It is on Modern Art and my aim is to try to understand it. As soon as I have finished this one, I will go on to another. I also read for an hour an afternoon just to keep new information coming in. 

A very important part of the day is connecting with people. I consider that to be Part 3. I make at least three calls on WhatsApp or FaceTime or some other visual platform and write at least three emails to people. It is important to reach out to people in the way they feel most comfortable. I even make phone calls! This is also the time that I do any paperwork for the house or myself.

The optional part is the projects, and I have many. A collection of poems I have loved, sorting through years of memorabilia and digitising it, sorting out the cookbooks and taking out the good recipes, watching programmes streamed to air as all audiences are in their homes.  

I finish the day writing in a diary to record who I spoke with and what my thoughts were for the day. With the best will in the world the days seem very much the same, even with the parts, and I want to be able to look back on this time with some knowledge as to what I did. 

That is my three part day with extras. The physical, the mental, the social and the optional of the day. It is not my usual day, but it is the best I can do. 

Maybe a schedule will be useful when I can get out of the house. But then I will be able to hang out with my family and friends. 

As my Russian friends say “We shall see” what I do when I no longer have all the time in the world.

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