Operation Oysterhood: 1-4 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Salieri in Spring

Spring. Kind of. My love recently gave us this velvety, fluffy, gorgeous blanket and, apart from independent-always-in-his-outdoor-nest Mozart, we all agree that currently the best place to be is under the blanket (especially on a rainy Sunday). I am trying to be as kind to, and as patient with, myself as I can, understanding that it’s either that or eventually a trip to Valkenberg, because there is a limit to what one should be able to take. I just want to get on with things and not be recovering from lesser or greater traumas.

I saw my counsellor on Wednesday and she did a fascinating exercise with me to reshape the emotional content of my memories connected with the intruder in my home. The brain is a curious creature, and even though it was difficult to think that such an exercise might help, it did make me feel better afterwards. I have also been thinking a lot about a Meditative Story I had listed to in the morning of the day of the traumatic encounter with the stranger in my house. In the story, a father was asking himself why he and his family had to deal with the difficulties they’d encountered on their path, and he came up with the answer that these things are random, that all of us have something that is making our particular life challenging to some extent. It is just a matter of what to do about it.

In my case, I am trying to give myself the space and time to feel that it is okay not to feel okay. And, on a much more fundamental level, I am desperately establishing and protecting my personal and professional boundaries. I have learned to be incredibly patient, flexible and accommodating, to handle many responsibilities simultaneously and to usually put others first, and to still manage to do what I want/need for myself, or, if the latter becomes impossible under given circumstances, not to feel resentful. This kind of being in the world is great for most people around me, but it is not always great for me. And I want to change that. There has to be a better balance between what I am capable of and what I should actually do.

Friday was a very busy day: there were several places I had to go to and quite a few things to accomplish, but from the moment I – a self-confessed technological dinosaur – set out, technology was against me, and it was difficult to explain myself to others and not to despair. However, the wonderful thing was that in every situation – no matter how technologically vexing – people, complete strangers, came through for me, and with their help I managed to achieve everything that I set out to do. In the evening, my love and I had dinner with family and I was basking in the warmth of these people who care about me, but also in the memories of the kindness of strangers.

Most times, we are unable to communicate what makes a particular situation a challenge to us when on the surface it seems uncomplicated to others, and it is always kindness that saves the day. Your distress is recognised and acknowledged without having to be explained and someone just says, ‘Don’t worry; I got this.’

So, to the helpful man at the warehouse and the patient women at the National Library and the organised team at the traffic department in Fish Hoek – thank you! You saved me, and I still remember all your kind eyes, listening without judgement, helping me along and wishing me well. You are my Heroes of Kindness!

By the way: there was a queue to get into the National Library in Cape Town on Friday. Some queues make one feel good about the world. This was one of them for me.

Saturday was a blissful day. My love and I drove out to Riebeek Kasteel and went to a very special wine tasting at Roundstone where the Mullineux wines are made. And I spent the evening with very dear Friends, celebrating a beautiful occasion. We spoke about what it takes to be a woman right now, in our circumstances, trying to lead a meaningful, fulfilling life; and we listened to a COVID-ICU (second wave) survivor tell her story (she got fully vaccinated the moment it was possible for her to do so).

I feel like getting a badge that says ‘VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19’: knowing that you are interacting with people who are vaccinated, makes you feel so much better about the interaction – you know you will not kill them or their loved ones by simply breathing.

The latest report on excess deaths in SA during the pandemic says 230 000 people. This is very difficult to comprehend, but we now have the means to prevent further loss on this scale …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

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