As we enter day 20 of 28 days of lock-down 2020 and frustration boils up from time to time I want to reflect on a meme about Anne Frank and some facts about their confinement hiding from the Nazis in the second world war that I saw on FB.
On this meme I read 2 facts that stuck with me. One was the size of the room they spent their confinement in and the other was the total amount of time they spent in this space. The size mentioned being 450 square feet, equal to about 41 square meters, which is tiny by any comparison taking into account the family spent 2 years of being cooped up in what was for all intents and purposes an attic. Not a house, not an apartment, not even a shack with a door or a window through which they had a choice to leave or look out safely. We are confined but we are confined with a certain amount of freedom very much still in place. What’s more is we don’t face persecution. Instead we are fighting an invisible war, one that could cause your death but should’t if you play by the rules.
What I found on Wikipedia;
Though the total amount of floor space in the inhabited rooms came to only about 450 square feet (42 m2), Anne Frank wrote in her diary that it was relatively luxurious compared to other hiding places they had heard about.
Anne Frank House – Wikipedia You can also read more about the Anne Frank diary by clicking this link for the autobiography https://www.biography.com/activist/anne-frank
As I sit here contemplating day 20 of a supposedly 28-day lock-down and taking into account that;
1. Our initial lock-down was going to be 14 days and then it was extended to 28.
2. Lock-down seemingly lasting anything from 14 days to a month or more in certain countries.
International and domestic travel has come to a complete stop. Travel from home to work has ground to a halt. Going to the shops other than on allocated days have become illegal. Schools, universities, businesses are closed indefinitely. Life has changed irrevocably within a matter of months. We’re effectively locked in with no say in the matter. Locked in with hopes to flatten the curve. For seemingly however long that may take.
In Mauritius, we’ve now been stuck inside for 20 days of which 8 of those were spent in complete lockdown which means that ALL shops and pharmacies even were closed. There was a curfew in place so one was not allowed on the streets at all.
On day 20 I’m feeling a bit frustrated, tired of my space, wanting to go out for a walk but not able to. Wanting to go to the shop without being policed once I get there. Needing to get out for my sanity.
Then; this meme passed my thread last week and got me thinking. I reread the story of Anne Frank. I’ve read it before but before, but that was before I’ve spent 20 days cut off from family and friends, cut off from doing what I want when I want and how I want to. Banned from living out my choices. Prohibited from leaving my home. Before what was normal changed and being under involuntary house-arrest became the ‘new normal’.
Reading this profound story about this young heroine once again, I realized how petty one sounds, complaining about spending 20 days in one’s home surrounded by luxuries, doesn’t matter how basic, I guarantee you it’s more than Anne Frank and her family had access too. Not to mention having access to food. 20 days with wi-fi, snacks, books, movies, space to walk up and down.I recall another meme stating; We’re called to fight this invisible war by sitting on the couch watching Netflix and eating doritos. Truth!
It made me realize how easy we complain. How we’ve taken for granted all that we have. How much choice we have in life, way too much at times if you ask me.
I’ve come to realize how blessed we are, taking stock of all the luxuries that we still have access to during lock-down. How ‘hard’ our lives have suddenly become not being able to go out shopping, going to the movies, visiting friends and family (yes, this particular one is a huge downer), visiting restaurants.
Seeing this meme and then having taken the time to read Anne Frank’s story again has impacted greatly on my perception of being in lock-down. If you have access to any of the following or have the freedoms I have mentioned below perhaps it is time to change the way we think…
- If you can still freely move about in your home without having to whisper or be afraid
- If you have a home with more than one room, a home with a kitchen to cook meals, a home with a bathroom, a home with a bedroom, a home with a garden, a space to call your own
- If you don’t have to worry about making a noise and getting into trouble for it
- If you have a kitchen with running water and a supply of food in the cupboards and fridge
- If you have access to food whether you order online or have the option to leave the house to buy food, either by walking, driving or taking a taxi to the shop
- A stash of toiletpaper (tongue in cheek)
- If you can still talk to others via Zoom, FB, WhatsApp, Skype and whatever other mediums you so choose
- if you are reading this you have internet and or wi-fi; which affords you access to a whole host of things like classes online from cooking to exercise to audiobooks and more
- You most probably have either NetFlix, Showmax or some or other sort of Television entertainment
- Social media connectivity
- You have access to the news
- If you have a balcony or garden to get some fresh air, or at the very least you are allowed to open your doors and windows
- If you have books to read, magazines to page through, a laptop, pc or cellphone to connect to the outside world
- you don’t fear imminent arrest and being thrown into a Jewish camp where death was certain
Lock-down has different meanings for each one of us. Perhaps you are spending lock-down in a tiny flat, a house or perhaps a farm. Perhaps you ended up in quarantine due to having been traveling when lock-down commenced. Perhaps you are stuck a long way from home waiting out lock-down eager to get home. Most likely you are ready to climb the walls like I feel at times. It’s quite normal I think. There are these stages that WE are ALL currently experiencing. First it’s fun, feels like an unexpected long-weekend. Then reality kicks in, boredom might set in, worry about finances, food scarcity in certain foodstuffs, missing family and friends. Longing for the lives we were used to living. Mourning the fact that we cannot go out and do stuff. Anger for being locked in, anger against those not following the rules and prolonging the torture. Acceptance; it is what it is. I still feel like screaming my head off some days and I question the lock-down daily but I am grateful it’s not my decisions to make. It cannot be easy for the people in charge. No one can predict the future. Good or bad.
If you are an essential services worker, in the front lines daily, know that you are much appreciated and we are grateful for the service that you deliver. Know that I respect lock-down to help make your plight lighter. Trying to ensure that I don’t add to the heavy burden on our essential workers or add to statistics by acting stupid.
Some people take lock-down very seriously and has not left the house even to go to the shops. There are those people that escape captivity as much as they can, using every excuse to get out, observing the safety measures of course. One can only hope. The last group is the group that disregards the rules totally and convenes on corners, don’t respect social distancing, causing the virus to spread more rapidly and causing the government to see the need for lock-down extensions.
Whichever group you fall in, take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to take stock of your surroundings and the priviliges you have access too. Take a moment to say thanks for the fact that you’re not cooped up in a 41 square meter attic for 2 years in succesion fearing certain death if found.
Conceivably doing this might change your mind. It might make that list of complaints and grievances about being in lock-down seem insignificant and unimportant when weighing your blessings against the restrictions and the reasons for being in lock-down. Change your thoughts, change your life. Try it. You might be surprised.
On a last note. Good luck. Stay home and stay safe. Stay healthy. We’ll get through this one way or the other.