PhD Candidate in History
Empty street, I close my eyes,
Imbibing the warmth.
I’ve always been a walker. From being a well-exercised toddler with a mother who didn’t drive, I progressed to being teenager who furiously pounded the pavements before exams to handle the stress. My devotion to walking frequently saw me walking from my home in the South side of Dublin to my university on the North side, an ideal opportunity to listen to my favourite music (and save on bus fare).
I took a very cautious stance at the beginning of the lock-down, resolving to limit my exercise to my ancient treadmill. This didn’t last however, and before the first week had ended, I was back on the pavements, dashing out the door at the end of a day’s work after making the vital podcast/audiobook/music decision. In the intervening weeks, my evening walks have become increasingly important, allowing me to process my thoughts and stretch my legs after days that have become increasingly crowded, encompassing research, home-schooling and the sourcing of food and providing of frequent meals to a family and two pets with high standards.
Walking outside also serves as a reminder that, despite my present narrow horizons, the outside world still exists. Encountering another walker often involves a complex little dance incorporating a rapid appraisal of distance and strategic eye contact in order to go on your way. Occasionally, you may catch the other walker’s eye and ruefully smile, attempting cheeriness despite the changed reality.
This lockdown seems to pare everyday life down to its essentials – obtaining food takes more effort, there’s a new-found anxiety for the health of our loved ones and certainties about life, work, education and the future don’t seem so certain anymore. Sometimes old and simple pleasures help to remind us of who we are and where we came from in strange and unfriendly times.