One afternoon, I decided that after days of staying indoors, I would go for a walk. As a child, I’d enjoy walking past the lake and running towards the park. As I grew older, I wasn’t able to breathe in the fresh air and feed the local ducks. Work and study began to take up my time, leaving no space for the silent craving of free time to enjoy my idea of home.

Walking across my street, I saw neighbours I hadn’t spoken to since they’d moved in two years ago. With a smile and a wave, I had unknowingly rekindled a forgotten friendship. I watched a man polish his surfboard on his driveway. Laughed at dogs barking at garden sprinkles. Over the fence, I heard the radio playing amongst the sound of drilling. The lawn mower. The hose.

Children’s colourful drawings were stuck with tape to house windows. Doodles scribbled with chalk on the pavement. Joggers moved aside to give the elderly couple the space to hobble across and dogs ran alongside children on scooters and bikes, parents trailing behind.

I was surprised at how alive my neighbourhood was. How I’d never realised just how many different people I’d lived near and never bothered to acknowledge. I was witnessing new life.

While we follow instruction and isolate ourselves at home, a lot of us may find ourselves or your children or parents bored. Frustrated. Annoyed. Trips to the supermarket or pharmacy feel like tiny glimpses of freedom and social contact. Yet, even then, we still feel lonely. For the first time, we are so close yet so far away from each other.

Sometimes, a walk can be the biggest journey we can undertake. It gives us a profound sense of appreciation to our surroundings and the people around us.

Often, we forget about the hobbies we once used to do or would have loved to attempt. Time was a social construct. It was never a consideration for many of us to take the time out of our day to do something for ourselves. We were limited to what we had to do, not want to do. To discover ourselves.

My mother, who never had the time to relax, was now sat on the couch, watching online recipes to learn new dishes. My father was finally using his green fingers to plant vegetables. A friend who was upset that she couldn’t get her nails done, was now online ordering in the products to do them herself. My brother who’d finally found the skateboard hiding in the garage, was now practicing in the backyard with bruises and frustrated huffs.

As we go on through this exhausting time of COVID-19 and maintain our health, now is the time to self-evaluate ourselves with all this free time. To change ourselves for the better and make use of our pleasures. To appreciate this time that we are given and make the most of it. While not all of us are able to have this opportunity, let us be grateful.

In this time of crisis, it is essential that we show love and respect not just for others, but especially for, ourselves.

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