In high school, when I needed to do some thinking, I used to save it up for my shifts in the bakery. I mostly worked weekends but once I was in uni, I picked up shifts through the week as well. The monotony and repetition of bagging bread rolls, tagging products, busting out frozen dough for the next day’s bake was oddly calming and it was during these times I pondered on things that, well, needed a quiet ponder.
At this time of my life, it was likely things of small consequence – an upcoming assignment, what to wear to the pub that weekend, a fight with my boyfriend.
Once I started working full-time as a journo, there was a lot of downtime on the road travelling to interviews. I relished this driving time to do my quiet ponderings and mull over my troubles – paying bills, finding new housemates, the 500th fight with the new boyfriend.
It wasn’t until three years ago that I actually, for the very first time, lived on my own. No boyfriend. No housemates. I had all the time in the world to ponder but it was the bad kind. It wasn’t mindful pondering like when I was baking or driving. It was tripping and stumbling into muddy puddles of depression and that kind of pondering was unhelpful. Instead of working through my problems, I would end up doing a half-hearted dog paddle, keeping my head above the surface but failing to reach the sides.
I remember my sister asking me if I would pick her up from the airport one weekend and I was thrilled at the opportunity to mindfully ponder on a long drive. It was the era of Tom and my heart was feeling sufficiently tortured enough that even my vagina was asking what the fuck.
I vividly recall hitting the start of the freeway and switching into ponder mode much as one would slip into cruise control. I replayed conversations in my head, fantasised about a future that would never be and took some ownership of my feelings in that 1.5 hour drive. It was, as they say, just what I needed.
My city has been in lockdown now since 5 August 2021. The regular travel I had been doing for work over the past year has ceased. I thought I would miss the pondering but lockdown has changed the way I reflect and mull.
These days I am less tolerant of anti-vaxxers, COVID-deniers, protestors, ridiculous politics, and the vitriol being sprayed across social and traditional media. I am finding it easier to walk away from people’s whose values I don’t share. I am finding it easier to cut out the people who have hurt me. Basically, I think lockdown has helped me cut out dwelling on the things that just don’t matter.
I also received information that could have changed my whole future, big information that I didn’t think I would ever need to process again. Three years ago, that kind of information would have seen me lost in a desert of indecision. But two weeks ago, I manage to receive it, process it and decide on it in six days. This is a big deal for me. And it wasn’t dramatic or full of tears just rational thinking and sifting out emotion from truth.
It feels amazing to have been able to achieve this without the support of a partner, and without my once best friend. Just me and my psych and a healthy dose of adulting. Yeah, I’m a bit proud of me.