I’m contemplating reading ‘Walden and Civil Disobedience’ by Henry David Thoreau during this lock down. It’s been sitting on my shelf and gathering dust for years and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to read it than now.
Right now social media is exploding with the news of the possibility of no booze and no cigarettes for the South African citizens until Level 1 of Lock down, which is like telling us ‘forever.’ Police are scouting the streets for bad-ass runners running more than 5 kilometres from their homestead, surfers have been arrested and the prisoners are being released! Possibly to make space for the runners and surfers? I don’t know. Thankfully I still have 2 bottles of wine and I don’t smoke, so I have not become a raging ‘fight for my rights’ activist, yet. But there is the potential. Maybe next week once I have finished my wine and all we have left is a cheap bottle of rum from the Seychelles that we bought while on honeymoon, a vintage now undoubtedly!
Social distancing on the farm….
I fully understand how most South African’s are starting to get antsy and are questioning the ‘authorities decisions and motives.’ And more seriously, questioning the deaths that have occurred in South Africa during Lock down allegedly caused by police and soldier brutality in the name of Lockdown violations. While I have tried hard to stay fairly detached from the COVID-19 hype and not to be completely consumed by the pandemic and by fear, it’s certainly been a journey for me, or rather a roller coaster ride – as it has been for most of us on Lock down in our own individual way. For me, this time has been a reason to pull out the old dusty, abandoned book from my bookshelf, ‘Warden and Civil Disobedience’ that explores the themes of commercialism, industrialism, solitude and is relevant to my recent deep and meaningful (!) ‘life pondering’s’ – of living a life of principle.’
While this Lock down has been challenging in many ways, I am eternally grateful for it. It does not meant that I agree with it when it comes to South Africa’s economic situation and that the majority of South African’s cannot afford to go on Lock down or that the Lockdown itself is potentially more damaging than the virus, but in respect to my personal situation – I’ve needed this time and I am thankful for it.
Local Highflats and Ixopo farmers donated fresh produce from their farms to vulnerable families in the area who have been economically affected by the South African COVID19 lock down. Food for 200 families was donated!
No doubt, our experiences of Lockdown have been so very different. My Lockdown experience, in comparison to many, as been a walk in the park or should say – a walk on the farm! This experience has felt incredibly familiar and one that I have missed. It feels much like what our life was like as expats; an intimate experience with less people, less commitments, plenty of space to move around in freely, more quality time with my family, admittedly homeschooling, (for my sins!) and most of all, simplicity. I have been reminded how ‘less’ has been a whole lot more. Though I am yet to feel bored, I am thankful for the extra time this ‘simpler’ version and more focused way of life has given me. I’ve needed this time to get my head straight and to catch up! To reflect and to refocus. To tackle some aspects of my life that needed attention but that I made no time for. To rethink my priorities and commitments and to set loving boundaries so that I can make space for how I really want to live my life and what I want to do with my time here.
I remember my school reports clearly. “Lianne has a problem with authority.” This is true.
There have been many times when this attitude has got me into trouble and many situations that I could have handled better. But maybe it’s also afforded me a way to feel comfortable with ‘conforming less’ and the courage (if you can call it that) to be true to myself and to speak openly and honestly like I am doing right now. When we moved back to South Africa, for a couple of years, I felt lost in myself. I missed what I had left, I missed my adult identity and suddenly I was back in my childhood hometown as a newbie in a farming district that was completely different to the life I had just left. Though I grew up here, nothing felt familiar anymore. And for a few years, I struggled to ground myself, and create a space here in which I can continue to grow in the direction that I want to, despite location. I remember a conversation that I had in my early days back ‘home.’ When discussing my new photography business and the direction that I wanted to go in, which was not family photography or wedding photography, but rather documentary photography and travel, that person felt because of where I am, location-wise, it was unrealistic. I felt the stirring of my good old rebellious self! ‘Nonsense,’ I thought, but kept that thought to myself. Part of my challenge since coming back to the farming district that I grew up in, has been to find my way of doing things here. To build up my confidence to be myself and to sometimes say ‘no’ to people and the idea they have of me living here. I am learning that I can still travel, I can do the photography I love to do, I can tell the stories I want to, I can commit to the causes that I want to and that serve my purpose. I can live the life I want, anywhere.
I know that if you are a townie or an expat or a frequent traveler, this all might seem so obvious and you might be asking ‘what’s the big deal?’ But for me, it’s felt harder to do out here in the country! It takes courage to be different, to do things differently, to believe differently, to live differently and to feel confident and secure in your individuality.
I am grateful for this this Lock-down because it has given me the time to make space for the future I want. At the beginning of 2020, I believed this year was about starting anew. What has happened instead, is that it’s been a year, so far, of completing projects, consolidating and identifying a clear way forward with my goal in mind. This Lockdown has really helped with this process. Going forward, agriculture and NGO photography has become my vehicle that will ultimately take me to where I want to go in my future. My blog Africa far and wide might seem like it takes the backseat sometimes and that I’m losing interest, but what you must know is that the photography I do on this blog and the stories I get to tell and the topics I get to explore, is exactly what my future is. I’m taking slow but deliberate steps to get there and I am going forward. One day I will look back and see the full picture, and how the twists and turns and round about ways, have been necessary for my growth.
What has Lockdown meant to you? What will you rush back to when it is over and what will you shed? What no longer serves you? And what are the steps you will take to create your own path, or your new path? What does the reset button do for you?
At the start of this ‘Social distancing’ followed by a full on ‘Lockdown’ I started a photo album of this historical time which I will make into a book one day for my kids to keep and to pass on to their kids. Here are a few images of my Lock down experience so far!
Camping in the garden….they lasted all of 15 minutes outside in their individual tents before knocking on the door asking to come back in!
Father and son making some hockey goals together!
*UPDATE Our president has just announced that alcohol will be for sale from the 1st of June. But not cigarettes!