Three pictures that teach me how to cope with lockdown
Life before lockdown, for me, can be described in one word: 'change'. Five years ago, I left a hospital teaching facility and decided to study 'Animal Welfare' at a normal college. Before this, I was severely ill with an anxiety condition and could barely leave the house.
From a level 2 college course (equivalent to a GCSE) I have worked my way through to successfully achieving a foundation university degree in 'Animal Behaviour and Welfare'. Through these years, nothing has stayed the same; animals come and go and Colin (pictured above) was one of the saddest losses from the college while I was there (he was quite the character!). There have been others that have touched my heart, but Colin was the first reptile I held in my palm, shattering my preconceptions and turning me into an exotics fan!
Colin used to change colours a lot. When he was excited, spooked, cold or a bit grumpy, he would turn from yellow to brown and any shade in between. Always as a result of his environment, in a way, Colin's changes reflect mine.
As with first handling Colin, when I first began to make friends outside of my house, my preconceived notions were broken yet again. I have been able to befriend vegans and fox-hunters alike despite not sharing their stances on animal welfare. Differences in who we are make for stronger friendships and happier days.
Colin was a brave chameleon; he would often stand up to many a foreign invader (tweezers, or a poor students hand!). I have had to stand up to myself and come out to my family, conquering my fears once again!
Don't get me wrong, there have been times where I was not myself, and some people I've wronged through my actions. Lessons I needed to learn didn't only dwell in classrooms. Despite this, I always came back to my senses and vowed to never do such things again.
One cannot stay the same forever. Reactions to environmental factors can cause a person to change, and too many can cause a person to hide away from life and all it can bring. Even good changes can be scary, and one thing I've learned is that I will always return to who I was before, only this time, with a different perspective.
If your reaction to lockdown is a bright yellow, or an drab brown, I can assure you that the neutral green will return and a new light of life will be offered by the perspective you've gained through this experience.
Life in a new enclosure
While we are in quarantine, it's easy to forget that there is life beyond our own front doors. But something I've learned for farm work with sheep is the ability to wait.
When the day of grazing is done, sheep often lay down next to one another and just; relax. They don't sleep, they just wait, in quiet company for night to fall.
They know they're trapped in a pasture, they know that the scary figure of a farmer may come at any time but in that moment they are happy to watch the sunset and wait on the new day.
In quarantine, I know I cannot leave the house as much as I used to, and there is a frightening virus in the air but for now, I am happy to wait, as sheep are, for a better day.
Pictured above is a parrot from my uni facility. He has particular trouble keeping his emotions in check, gaining him quite the reputation amongst the students.
In truth, old Oli here was abused. We don't know under what circumstances but we know he doesn't like men's voices, hats and sudden movements. With the right approach however, Oli can be quite a sweetheart. Pictured above, he can be seen reaching out and considering my finger as a perch.
Lockdown can lead all of us to feel angry and powerless. What Oli here has taught me is that anyone can be charmed with the right mix of food and affection. Something that can be applied to oneself or others to make our lockdown company less emotional.
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Lockdown has not been pleasant for me. But through the lessons I learned before we were shut in, I have managed to keep my anxiety condition in check and continue to live a manageable life.
Hopefully you'll take my photos and writing into account when you're next feeling beaten. We could learn a thing or two from our animal friends!