The Realisation That We Under-Appreciate Everything

May 6, 2020

Health & Lifestyle | Rhiannon Wardle

This is probably the strangest upheaval of society that we have ever experienced, collectively and perhaps individually too. We’re either not going to work, or are risking our lives working, and there is a weird disparity between these two realities people are experiencing. For the former, this lockdown feels a bit like being home for the school holidays when you’re twelve and not allowed to do anything fun. There are positives to staying at home, of course. It can be nice to not have any responsibilities except making your next snack and choosing your next TV series to binge. However, the overwhelming realisation that I’ve been having throughout this time, is that we under-appreciate almost everything in our lives.

It’s not necessarily our fault that we’re so ungrateful most of the time - humans are practically wired to take small things for granted. But now that we’ve been forced (for our own safety) to severely limit our actions and interactions in everyday life, I keep thinking about the little things I miss. Walking, for example. I know we’re allowed a daily dose of exercise, but whenever I take a walk in the park, I can’t help but feel a bit like I’m in a dystopian universe - taking the same route, not allowed to linger or take up too much space. Perhaps you can credit my love of apocalyptic fiction for this overarching feeling, but the point is, walking has never felt so restricted.

When I think about the walking I’d like to do, I usually think about the nature and beaches in my home county, but I also miss walking through the city late at night, feeling tipsy. Perhaps this could be after going to the pub with friends, or going for karaoke with work colleagues - but there is a certain charm that comes with heading home a little bit drunk, after wandering through brightly lit streets. As you walk, you revel in the fun night you had, but also take pleasure in knowing you’re soon going to be in bed with a midnight (or 2am) snack. Bed doesn’t have quite the same comfort-level when you practically never leave it.

I also miss some situations that might naturally arise on a walk. As a dog lover, I can’t stand that I can’t say hello to any puppies that sniff my ankle, out of fear that I might transfer my germs to them. And if I see a dog that looks particularly adorable, I miss being able to chat to the owners about their adorableness. Leading on nicely from this, I think we all miss unabashedly people-watching. Currently, staring at people for too long might arouse suspicion, because the only people we can really trust to not be sick are the people we live with. Of course there is a level of necessity to this - social distancing is vital during this time - but I can’t help but remember the luxury of being able to lay on the grass in a crowded park, and take in my surroundings without any anxiety.

Moving on to the subject of food, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gained a new appreciation for certain foods. While one of my friends was moaning to me the other day that she misses non-home-cooked food because there are hardly any takeaway restaurants where she lives, I miss pudding. While we are allowed to go to the shop and buy whatever we like, limiting our shopping trips means a lot of us usually stick to essentials. And besides, it is usually after dinner, when it starts to get dark, that my craving for dessert starts to creep up on me. I used to enjoy going for late night adventures, popping to tesco just to get a microwavable melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding and some double cream.

I know that a lot of people do not miss public transport, and generally I am one of them. However, I do miss listening to music on the bus. My work commute used to be about an hour, and it can be surprisingly peaceful (as long as you get a seat) to take this time to just get lost in a good playlist and think about nothing as you drift down countless streets. More than this, I miss driving through the countryside, turning up the volume high and singing notes I normally can’t reach. This brings me to the restriction on travel - I realise now how incredibly lucky we are to normally have such large freedom of movement. Although there are often obstacles to cross when arranging a family visit, such as the cost, or being able to get time off work, it is an amazing feat that we usually have such wide access to train travel across the country. Currently unable to make the journey to my hometown, due to it being non-essential, I realise how lucky I am to normally have so much freedom.

Each person will have their own things that they can’t wait to do when the pandemic is finally over. Some people might make big plans to go on holiday, and other people will just be wanting to get back to their career, or provide their children with some normalcy and routine again. The first thing I will do is hop on a train to Cornwall and take my dogs for a walk on the beach; seeing their sandy fur and tongues lolling as they scamper through puddles will put an enormous smile on my face. Although the end of this pandemic will not be a straight line, and there will still be hardships when this is over, I know that we will all have a whole new appreciation for life’s small pleasures: feeling the sun on our faces outside the boundary of the garden fence, being able to hug our friends and being able to sneeze outside without feeling guilty.