Pandemic life: "learning to be grateful for the small pleasures"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

She has now turned those columns into a book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House.

The pandemic robbed Jenny of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"Last night I took an impromptu trip to the theatre, and anyone who knows me will be able to guess that I definitely didn’t scream in excitement in my flatmate’s face at the prospect. That’s a lie – I most definitely did. A friend with spare tickets invited me to see award winning musical Waitress for the second time, an emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling both fulfilled and heartbroken in the best possible way. Due to finances and location, theatre trips are a rarity for me. They are experiences that last with me for weeks after but I suppose that you could label them as an occasional hobby, nothing to necessarily write home about. Perhaps an example of the small pleasures that we have no shame or guilt in indulging in. In fact, Small Pleasures is the title of the book I finished reading just yesterday. I experienced the best possible feeling you could ask for when scanning that final word of a novel – shock at an unexpected twist yet satisfaction with the ending.

"Clare Chambers’ novel focusses on the often-unrecognised value in the simple things of life: library books, new stationery, hyacinths – the list goes on. Due to my Christian faith I often practise gratitude for the big things in life. When I see healing in a family member or pass an exam I find it second nature to be thankful for these victories, but how often do I stop and acknowledge the beauty of a flickering candle or a hot meal after a long day? These are things that I took the time to appreciate at the height of the pandemic but have quickly become simple routine as the fast pace of life has been resumed. I wonder how many of the life lessons and attitudes we adopted during 2020 and early 2021 we may now have forgotten. In the storm of confusion and isolation many of us managed to battle our way through by finding the beauty in the madness – Clap for Carers being one of them. The opportunity to show our thankfulness and consistently accolade its’ achievements was a fantastic experience. Am I still in complete awe of the NHS? Of course. But do I admit to now sometimes taking its advantages for granted? Sadly, yes.

"Although for many of us these experiences and attitudes was a method of coping with the atrocity of what was going on around us, surely it can’t be a positive thing to abandon these all now that life is returning to some state of ‘normal’. It saddens me to think that it’s unlikely I’ll ever again have stretched out days and weeks before me where my sole responsibility is to shower, eat and read in the garden as the sun beats down. Lockdown had some horrible moments, some of which I would never want to relive, but learning to be grateful for the small pleasures was a lesson I don’t wish to forget in a hurry.