I have a desk full of ancestral connections. This old mahogany table has three shallow drawers with wallpaper from my childhood lining them. They link me to my past. I remember it so well and am so happy to have it as my own desk now.

As a young child, I remember the old fashioned phone with a black extension box that we could ring by turning a rotating handle to connect directly to my father working in his pharmacy in the next door village. I don’t know how that worked but it was such a lovely feeling to know he was only a circular movement away.

There was a leather blotter with inky blue blobs from the fountain pens we used. A brass shell case, that held our pens, pencils and a paper knife to open envelopes. The post was very exciting in those days. The most important item on the desk was the circular dial phone. This grew in importance as I grew up, pinnacling during my teenage years!

A place where messages were taken. Long meaningful conversations were held between my mother and her mother or sisters far away. Long distance calls from America or India were infrequent with massive gaps and faltering connections. So many calls to my best friends were enjoyed here in the evenings.

The piano was in this room too and I spent a lot of time practicing my music here, every morning from the age of 9 when I would do 20 minutes before catching the bus to school! Eventually, lovely music would drift around.

Back to my inspiration to write this. Well quietly, sat at my desk, I looked out of the window to the countryside beyond. A train travels along in the distance. As it passes through the lens of a beautiful drinking glass sitting on the windowsill I notice the train bends up in an arc inside the glass and is magnified giving me a new view of the train.

I had been thinking about my book writing and what category it would come under. What is the essence of this book I am creating? Well I know it is a memoir with useful observations I can make in retrospect or avoided noticing during the busy times of my life. I think this filter effect has been helpful to pinpoint at least a theme that seems to run through:

The filters in my mind create my perspective of my world at different times and how that can change. The expectations, habits, experiences that taught me to notice things, childhood stories, films we watched, books I read, music I heard or played, attitudes I saw or experienced, emotional atmospheres, sensual awareness of sounds, smells, tastes like the salty breezes and smell of the sea. The changing experiences in the stories of our family over the years. All these are filters or lenses particular to my view of the world. None of us have constant filters, they change consistently as we grow and develop, discover new places and people, move into adult life and experience even more.

During the lockdown, I viewed my window on the world with more mindfulness. I had more time to sit and stare, to notice my connections to past and present, indoors and outdoors, inside and outside, mind, body and beyond. My lens on the world awoke beyond the personal, to encompass the world.

We were all experiencing separation, some solitude, loss, grief, sadness and uncertainty. There was fear, loneliness and anxiety fired by the media and statistics to ensure compliance with recommended health safeguards and procedures.

But there was also peace, a silence, a pause in the traffic of the world. The skies were clear, the roads became walkways. We learned to stay close to our homes. To love each other more, to feel more connection in the disconnection. The holes in the ozone layer diminished, pollution dropped and nature thrived. Animals were free to lie on warm roads on Dartmoor, birdsong seemed louder because we could now hear. Our senses came alive and we realised how interdependent we are as a whole planet. Side by side, we saw the world with fresh eyes of hope during a desperate time.

Walking with our feet, waking up our bodies and minds in the fresh air was relished as freedom when everything was so controlled. There were challenges within the physical confines, forced togetherness was not welcome or safe for many people. New systems evolved; new habits grew. Despite the difficulties, many people found inspiration to create new ways of working and living. Innovative ideas and abilities flourished.

A few recognitions of the changes that evolved during this time:

There was a sense of loving support and altruism in communities.
We learned to live within boundaries to help save others’ lives.
Repeating patterns of behaviour were unavoidable but we had our own unique styles and methods that allowed us to continue.
We developed perseverance and patience during a period of reduced choice and freedom.
Many people discovered joy in their creativity.
We became less complacent and more grateful.

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