Operation Oysterhood: Day Thirty-One

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

@HaggardHawks

These two Wild Earth live safari screenshots encapsulate my life under lockdown. I want to crawl into my home and hide. And even if I do crawl out of my shell, everything is very slow. Carrying a heavy burden around might be the reason why my lower back is also gradually giving up on me. The pain began yesterday and it is getting worse by the hour… Ah, well!

The TV watched me all night long, uninterrupted, until about 5am. I usually have a small cup of coffee in the morning, but today my largest mug came out in support.

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I must remember that unwashed, uncombed & unbrushed is the look that my Twitter followers like best. Over fifty little red hearts showing up in my notifications for this picture on my timeline. Or was it the mug?

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I spent the early morning in my bedroom bed, reading and watching live safari. And then I fell asleep again, despite all that coffee. A deep, restful sleep.

After the 9am news, Margie Orford co-presented a show on SAfm, speaking about the lockdown, or self-isolation, as “sheltering in place”. I love the concept. One of the guests Margie invited to the show, Daniel Canogar, a visual artist, spoke about “humility” and “surrender” and “compassion” in the time of the pandemic and the words resonated with me in so many ways.

It has become my habit to look out for Cathy Kelly’s daily Instagram posts about her life under lockdown. If I don’t see her update before I fall asleep, I check in the morning. Her voice is gentle, wise and full of compassion. Today, she also posted a brave and beautiful text on her blog: When Love Hurts in Lockdown. May all who need a crimson throw find one to keep them going, to guide them to safety.

Verushka Louw is also posting the most touching photographs and stories on Instagram now:

18 April: “My gran was a midwife in a small town, she raised 6 kids and this is the only drawing that I know of that she ever did. Weekends we would go to thrift stores or markets. Sometimes for inspiration, sometimes looking for specific thing, but always looking for treasure. Lockdown is at my mother’s house. So I thought, let me look here every day for treasure. Let me see things with new eyes. I’m going to try and post something each day. Join me. #krapindiekas Tag me if you find something.”

I look forward to the treasures she finds every day. My whole life can be mapped in objects and I find Verushka’s current adventure fascinating.

Three years ago, Verushka baked a cake that said YOU ARE LOVED for one of my launches. I have been known to show up on her doorstep when seeking refuge in my dreams.

The creativity of these women, among many others – the words, images, ideas, photographs they bring into the world during a difficult time – are sustaining in ways that no food or water can be. They form a lifeline.

I have been struggling to read in the past month (has it really been only a month?), but this afternoon and morning I got lost in two books, in the manuscript I am reading and in The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield. It felt good to just turn the pages.

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Raspberries marked my garden loop walk today. Whenever I walk, like so many other writers, I am inspired. With every raspberry disappearing, the idea I had yesterday while swimming developed further into a tangible plan.

This past month has been slow, it has had its really rough patches. More will surely come, but despite despair, insomnia, lethargy, tears, nightmares, sore cheeks and a broken back, there has been so much that kept me going. Especially words, those penned by others, and my own.

Looking over the past few weeks, I can’t help thinking of the great Toni Morrison.

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

— Toni Morrison

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home. Do language.

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