Tracy Piggott, former jockey, broadcaster and daughter of legendary jockey Lester Piggott, hails from four generations of horse racing champions. Like many of us, she knows just how challenging it can be to successfully juggle a career and family. In this guest blog, Tracy ponders the impact of lockdown and how it might just change us for the better.
Firstly, I want to take this opportunity to wish everybody well. Whatever situation you find yourself in, take heart that we will get through this together.
It really is the strangest of times, like nothing any of us have ever experienced in our lifetime, and in many ways, hope we will never experience again.
Let us stop and think for a moment about the positives that can come out of this experience. My mother would often ask me to find something good in every situation, however seemingly absurd that would seem to me at the time. Terrible tragedies and appalling events can often bring out the very best in people and force us to look closely at what REALLY matters in our lives.
Under normal circumstances, it can be incredibly difficult to stop and look, or “smell the roses” so to speak.
We are usually running around, getting from here to there and trying to juggle so many things at one time. We never see, or imagine, that we have the opportunity to take a breath and look inward for just a few moments. The clarity that can come from doing that is incredible.
Things are being stripped back to the very basics. We can no longer take for granted simple pleasures like going out for dinner, meeting with friends at the cinema or shopping centre, or going for a holiday abroad. We are fearing what lies ahead. Terrified of not knowing when it is all going to end, and when we can get back to normal.
The fact is, we never know what lies ahead, and really, what is normal? What we do have is now, the present moment, and that is all we can really be sure of. It is often the simplicity things that are hardest to comprehend or bear.
My first reaction when the pandemic began was a sense of panic, anxiety and an awful dread that I had no control. I really felt the rug being pulled from underneath me, and that I was losing a grip on my life. I would wake with a jolt from a bad dream and feel the awful reality of what was happening weigh down upon me.
That lasted for a few days, when suddenly I saw how ridiculous I was being and how very arrogant and foolish. I never had control before, and only felt that I did. It was my survival mechanism, kidding myself that I was in control of everything around me - my child, my home, my job, my plans, my trips, my projects and ideas. Once I accepted that my perceived control was all just an illusion, then I got a great feeling of relief and acceptance. It was almost laughable when I really looked at myself and how I was trying to cling on to everything, thinking I could actually direct what was happening in the future, and that things would pan out as I envisioned.
In one way or another, we all live our lives according to this great illusion. Maybe what is happening now is in some way shattering our perceptions and bringing us to a different way of looking at and seeing our lives. There are no escape routes available, like going to work, going to the pub or going out with friends when things are not so great at home.
The excuses of being too busy ‘doing’, are gone.
We are spending more time with our children, and being made to slow down and stay in one place for longer periods of time. We are having to face demons that we might not have had to face before. Some might be very small for people, while others might be very large.
The landscape we left behind when the pandemic began will look almost unrecognisable when we come out the other side.
Some businesses will not reopen, while others will thrive. Some marriages will break up, some relationships will be better. In a lot of cases, bonds will be stronger with our children and we will have a new understanding of those we have lived with for years, but perhaps never really taking the time to listen to, or look at.
In some cases, there will be a new acceptance of ourselves. It is harder to run from yourself when movement restrictions are in place. When I was troubled or depressed, a trip to the shops to buy something frivolous would give me a boost and relieve those feelings for a little while. There were many ways I could run away from myself and I think most of us can identify with that. A lot of us will find things that we have to start accepting about ourselves. Some will find it harder than others, some will be pleasantly surprised, some of us will laugh and see the madness in it all. But I do believe we will all come out of this stronger, wiser, more patient and resilient. We will have learned such valuable life-changing lessons. We will appreciate the simple, small and precious things. The beauty of our first few spring days, the sunlight on our faces and the start of new life all around us. The flowers, the birds and the natural wonder of our world. Nature continues as always, no matter what is going on. She finds a way to thrive and get through the very hardest, coldest, wettest, cruellest of times in a flurry of beauty and magnitude.
Maybe we can too.