A couple of weekends ago, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I streamed and watched a film called The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. It was a slight but charming fantasy about a couple of teenagers in an ordinary American town experiencing exactly the same day over and over again. The repetition of events allowed the teenage boy to map out a series of funny or spectacular moments that occurred during the day and then schedule to view them, or interact with them in different ways, during each daily repetition. It was Groundhog Day with teenagers rather than Bill Murray.
The ‘Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ was entertaining enough, but what made it memorable was that it resonated with our current situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. We are in what sometimes seem like an endless lock down; every day feels, rather weirdly, very much like the last.
The film reminded me that we need to appreciate all the good things – even if they can often only be little things at the moment. I need to do more of that despite, or perhaps because of, the back drop of the pandemic (and even while railing against all of the inequality, strife, climate emergency concerns and political shenanigans of the world). What we can all do is take comfort from the tiny pleasurable moments in each locked-down day.
Those moments might be the sighting of a kestrel or a group of buzzards during an airy walk across the Cotswold Tops, or seeing a flock of chattering long tailed tits in the ivy opposite our house. Recently, while on a walk with Middle Son and his girlfriend – in itself, a set of (slightly illicit) lovely moments – I saw a dipper and then, later, the iridescence of a kingfisher. Another perfect thing might be coming across a particularly attractive moss-covered tree, or suddenly spotting the semi-wild but inquisitive pigs snuffling around in the local woods. Another perfect moment was seeing the result of my recent and hugely overdue haircut (courtesy of LSW).
Then, today, I had a welcome tiny moment when I had the first of my anti-coronavirus vaccinations. The moment of the jab itself was painless but it still felt like an important instant that signals the start of a new phase. Lock down may still have some weeks to run. For a few weeks yet, meetings with friends and Middle Son and his girlfriend may continue to be chilly snacks in the garden, or bracing walks, rather than gatherings around cosy wood-burners or indoor dinners. However, change and more frequent, and more obviously perfect, tiny moments are coming.
In any case, the progression of the seasons has helped provide a structure for time spent – we aren’t really living at a standstill. Spring is here and every warm and sunny day now provides a hint of the summer to come. The buds in the hedgerows are swelling and bursting, the birds have long been active and noisy, and the fading snowdrops are now outshone by anenomes, crocuses and daffodils.
For me, the football season has also provided a structure to the chronology and a sense of progression over time. My local and favourite team, Forest Green Rovers, are doing very well. Watching every one of their games through an internet streaming service (now physical attendance at games is prohibited again) has been a real boon. Indeed, on the coldest football evenings, I’ve been very glad to be able to watch my team from the comfort of our living room rather than the frozen stand in our stadium. I am finding that the football season is providing a way – albeit a tense one – through the repetition and drift of time in pandemic lock down.
This has been my first post to this blog for a few weeks. In part, that has been due to distractions due to a busy period with our local climate action group and, more recently, involvement with a local Community Land Trust project. Also, though, those weeks have been dominated by a routine of relative inactivity so as to avoid the coronavirus risk. There hasn’t seemed much to say.
I think I need to pay more attention to those transient, tiny, perfect moments in my routine and make the most of them. But, also, I am hoping that my vaccination jab, and the end of lock down over the next several weeks, paves the way to a new context for those moments. That context will include, once again, proper socialising, travel and substantial events; a map of large perfect moments.