Going Somewhere

It’s still dark when I wake up here. Winter still keeps the sun down until 8 AM, but I’m usually up an hour before.

As I finish my morning routine, I’m dressing up to get out for my daily cup of coffee. Schools and kindergartens are still open, although pretty much every other social venue is closed (just a few coffee shops selling cafe para llevar). My daily walk goes through a dense patch of parents leaving their kids at the kindergarten across the street, but other than that, it’s pretty empty. Every other block, there might be a van stopped in front of a frutas y verdura, unloading a few crates of aguacate, fresas or tomate. A part from the sound of my own steps, it’s silent. Even the main train station, which I pass by every morning, seems deserted.

It may look like a strange scene, but this morning walk to my daily coffee is one of the most important parts of the day for me.

You see, during the last 4 weeks we’ve been in a de-facto lockdown here, in the Valencian Community, and that means a huge part of what I understood by “life” is shut down. No live interactions, no travel, no spending loads of time in nature. I didn’t meet any of my friends in real life for more than a month. I didn’t meet anyone in real life, for what matters, outside my barrista friend from the coffee shop. Although it seems like we’re free to move around (and indeed, we can get out of the houses) we’re just confined in a bigger enclosure.

And yet, I’ve been managing this situation way better than the first lockdown, in March last year. The first lockdown took me by surprise (I’m sure it took everybody by surprise) as we were literally confined inside our own homes, unable to get out, for 7 weeks. Although I did manage to have a consistent routine during that time too, there was something missing, something that eventually accumulated in a lot of frustration, brewed some toxic behaviors and pushed me to compensate by doing a 380km hike, known as Camino de Santiago.

What I missed during the first lockdown was the feeling of going somewhere.

We need a sense of direction. We need to at least imagine that we’re going somewhere, in order to define our territory. In the absence of this feeling, we feel lost, even if we’re actually sitting still.

In normal circumstances, we derive this feeling from many sources, most of them on autopilot. We probably have a job, or a business, that we plan ahead. We probably have a relationship, and we build activities on top of that. We have commitments and friendships that we attend to. All these small pieces are combining together in a puzzle that creates both the territory in which we are moving, and the road in which we are engaged.

But when all of this is shut down, we’re left alone. Our perceived territory is shrinking, our path is fading. We’re drifting away, even if we’re locked down in our own houses.

The good news is we can build this feeling in a different way. It may take more time, and a more conscious approach, but it can be done. It may be boring in the beginning, but it eventually works out.

All we need is to define a single destination, simple enough to be reachable every day, but not too time consuming. By reaching this destination every single day, we build a new territory. It may be smaller, it may be predictable, but it’s still a destination. It’s there, waiting for us, and every time we reach to it, we are rewarded.

When our entire life is blown apart by unpredictable events, even a small cup of coffee can rebuild a new life, if we just reach to it.

Every single morning.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.