Day Three



I remember to sit quietly at 9am, joining my sister in her meditation group, and when I message her she says she likes the thought that I'm there with her. After that I attend to emails and some writing tasks.Time has stretched somehow and little things take longer. It's hard to know what I've done with the morning.

I'm thinking about what a difference words can make. On Facebook I see that kapa haka teacher Whaitiri Poutawa calls it a rahui rather than a lockdown because a rahui is for the protection of the environment, other people and the spirit. I like that. I notice a British presenter says 'staying home' rather than 'self-isolating'. I've been talking about house arrest and solitary confinement. In the past I've joked about developing this or that skill 'in case I'm ever under house arrest.' I can't think what those skills were but I had in mind the courage of human rights defenders such as Aung San Suu Kyi who have made the best of their confinement with a routine of yoga, meditation and study. I can draw on their courage but less harsh words are needed here: rahui sounds good or maybe retreat, or just staying home.

Then I learn from the daily briefing that swimming is forbidden and the image that comes to mind is Lent, that season before Easter when Christians give up something for the good of their spiritual development. We're in Lent now. When I was a child in a Catholic family we routinely gave up sweets. It's surprising to remember how often we would be offered sweets in the '50s. We would take them, virtuously saying, 'Thank you, I'll eat it later' and add them to the jar Mum put in the pantry, to be rationed out after Easter. I can still remember how it felt, being 'good' in that way. So I have a template for giving up my favourite activity, swimming, not so much to 'be good' but to 'do good'. We are part of a bigger whole here, taking action for the safety of others.

My exercise for the day, therefore, is a run so I set out into the wind, along the path by the park. There are a few people out walking and biking; some of them smile and say hi. A mother and her children are in the park – she's doing an exercise routine, good on her, while the children, perhaps at the age where it wouldn't be cool to join in, cluster awkwardly.

When I get back I'm hot enough, and the afternoon is still sunny enough, that I decide to wash down the house, which is on my to do list. It involves wielding the long brush and getting soaked from the hose but it's satisfying to see the dust and mould washing off. I'm on the last wall, by the front gate, when a man and a small boy walk past. The man says hello and the boy asks me what I'm doing. I say, 'I'm washing the house. Can you believe I can wash a whole house just like you'd wash your face and hands.' He looks at me solemnly. He's so small, probably his parents wash his face and hands. I tell the man I'm saving $200 because I'd planned to get someone in to do it. He laughs as they go on down the zig-zag.

I feel pleased with myself. I'm also pleasantly tired and after a shower, dinner and a Netflix movie, I sleep well.