• Lindy Davis - Writer

Musings from…my cave

4 MONTHS LATER – We burst the bubble to discover our little island nation is so hot right now.

There are some very small advantages to the Covid-19 debacle that should really be acknowledged.

Anything that changes the usual routine, forcing us to think laterally can actually be a good thing. Ideas we carefully formulated with good intention last year, have since been postponed or shelved altogether. Travel plans, weddings, festivals, jobs and other significant events have been put on hold as we revise new strategies to suit the current climate.

But at this moment in time and it IS just a moment, we’ve become more resourceful and without a doubt more resigned to the present. I’d go so far as to say we’ve become better versions of ourselves.

Typically, we all spend copious amounts of time planning and forecasting for the future, instead of focussing on the present and being in the NOW.

The adage ‘live for today’ has never seemed more relevant.

Given the enormous debt incurred as a result of the global pandemic and the simple fact that 2020 hasn’t shaped up in any way we might’ve imagined, we now have the opportunity to create a new mantra for ourselves and for our country.

In the recent budget, the government pledged a $400m tourism relief package with an additional $55m to support Pacific Island nations. It’s hardly going to change anything on a grand scale, so in my opinion, we need to focus on creating a stronger South Pacific collaboration. It makes little sense that the Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji (popular travel destinations and currently Covid-free), haven’t been issued the green light by our government for travel. The islands will be suffering enormously without tourism and certainly our national airline could do with an injection of capital.

Tourism plays a significant role in the economies of all the above. So why aren’t we going there?

Initially the delay was related to keeping the island nations safe and Covid-free, but given they’ve been begging us to open up passage, it seems more likely that the government is insisting we stay at home and keep the NZ economy circulating.

The recent positive spin on NZ and the fact that Jacinda has become a global political icon, should equate to this country being one of the most sought after destinations to visit, right up there with the great natural wonders of the world…like the Great Barrier Reef, which is also impossible to visit right now.

Hopefully our tourism operators can gear up for profitable times ahead, once the borders re-open. Trans-Tasman travel should be happening now and it isn’t.

The opportunity to imminently open up the Australia/NZ/South Pacific gateway has passed us by. If the Australian government had realised the value of shutting down all its states for an 8-week period (similarly to NZ) we would now be enjoying the opportunity to travel freely back and forth, without the need for quarantine.

Surely this would’ve been an easier task than having to police each individual state and endure reoccurring problems for the next 6 months?

What else is good about the current climate?

During lockdown I wore a mask and surgical gloves when I ventured out, which meant little need for makeup or nail varnish.

The quiet social calendar translated to little necessity for a wardrobe upgrade. If we had embraced WHO regulated PPE gear, (top-to-toe in white jumpsuits as though we all worked in an abattoir), then there’d be no requirement for a seasonable wardrobe ­– ever.

This pattern of a ‘simpler’ life has become the new norm for many people, and never more so than for those who continued to work remotely.

I barely used my car during lockdown and have subsequently used it far less than I used to, so there’s an upside right there.

The beauty/hair industry was out of operation during isolation, so I took the opportunity to upskill at home. The results were surprisingly acceptable and got me thinking about all the other things we don’t normally do for ourselves in the scheme of things, but easily could.

It occurred to me that men keenly hover in hardware shops in a similar way to women in fashion stores. There’s a reason for this and I figured it out in lockdown. Donned in heavy-duty gloves and armed with a vicious-looking hedge trimmer, I hit our driveway hedges that were wildly overgrown.

It’s during these sorts of banal tasks (like plucking brows or waxing legs) that you discover a new perspective on things.

While men aren’t particularly partial to vacuuming, they will happily spend hours with a leaf blower. The process is easy enough, not too dissimilar to handling a large blow dryer. Moving stealthily around the pathways brandishing the big blower and causing leaf pandemonium, the job was done and it was clear I could manage the tools. Had I known they were simple to operate, I might’ve negotiated to do hedge trimming in exchange for laundry duties years ago.

My point being, none of these tasks were difficult, they were just not jobs I’d associated myself with. As it turns out, there’s lots we can do for ourselves relatively easily, but habits are what often define us.

Apparently coffee machines and sex toys were two of the most sought after products during lockdown. (a fun fact from a reliable source).

Given children were home schooled during this time, I imagine there’s been some colourful show-and-tell stories for kids back in the classroom.

I’m glad to be rid of hand sanitiser. It’s terrible for your skin and contains ingredients that should never be used long term. It was no surprise to learn that dermatologist waiting rooms had an increase in patients needing creams to repair and rehydrate flaking skin and eczema as a result of excess sanitiser.

We’ve been told that NZ now has sufficient PPE gear and testing kits to meet demand should there be a crisis and thankfully we’ve now returned pretty close to ‘normal.’

But despite government reassurance that community infection of Covid-19 is now highly unlikely in NZ, there is still insufficient evidence that the health system could cope if there ever was to be a full-on outbreak.

As for the quarantine fence jumpers that don’t appear to give a rat’s arse about infecting people, why aren’t they thrown into solitary for 6 months or at least put to work fixing the roads. That some idiot sees merit in breaking quarantine rules in order to score a few Leffe beers and a bottle of Pinot is nothing short of pathetic. The government needs to come down hard on these people, otherwise the risk will always be there. Why should a country of 5 million be held hostage by a few selfish people who chose to return to NZ at the last minute and why on earth are tax payers having to foot the bill for their quarantine?

Surely people should pay for themselves if they make the decision to travel to and from NZ while borders are officially closed.

The daily footage of countries chronically affected by Covid-19 (the US, Mexico, India, the UK, South America) is hard to imagine.

But the Chinese-origin pandemic that has now killed almost 700,000 people, has taught us that we need to live differently and redefine the value we place on things.

Personally I didn’t miss ‘stuff’ during lockdown, I mostly missed the freedom to see family and friends.

Going forward my thinking is this; if we were less engaged with consumerism and increasingly committed to living more consciously, investing in things that are locally made and preferably timeless, then we might have a future that shows some promise.

The queen famously referred to a bad year as annus horribilis, but I’m crowning 2020 as annus mutatio - the year of CHANGE.

If I’m honest; I’ve personally never been more excited for a year to come to an end.

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