Hope Springs Eternal

I’m cheating the pandemic misery, hence the delay in updates. If you thought, like Kate Moss, that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, stand corrected: after months-long house arrest in Central Europe nothing feels as good as having fresh, Nordic sea breeze on one’s mask-free face. There are no exceptions to this rule.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my séjour in Finland. Not much of a gratitude journal-type myself (if you can believe it), I’m very aware of the various blessings that I keep counting each day. Helsinki is always absolutely stunning (and when I say always, I mean exclusively in the summer when the sun shines), and it is soul-burstingly so after the rather traumatising lockdown spring.

I last wrote about the feeling of treading water, when it feels as if nothing moves (also called the European summer holiday when the whole continent stands still while people lark about on their multi-week paid annual leave). Well, nothing is moving yet, although people are slowly crawling back to their cubicles to hear the latest on the teleworking front . It is going to be such a random autumn. The only thing about the new normal we apparently know for sure is that we can no longer plan ahead beyond two weeks maximum. I laughed when the Waterstone’s tweeted the following the other day:

A customer has just bought a 2021 calendar. Sir, we admire your optimism.

I lived most of my life under the illusion that I have some level of control over my life. Then I realised it had been merely anxiety all along (it was helpful to realise that most people like to pretend their anxiety is control). This seems like a simple tweak hardly worth the effort, but it was actually hugely liberating to accept that “well, no matter how things were before, this is how they are now and this is precisely where I am“.

I went through the September issues of the biggest fashion magazines and even in them fashion has taken the back seat. It’s activism, facts, education and standing up for a cause that feature on the front pages. Hair-barrettes costing upwards of €700 have been replaced by interviews of activists and front-line workers.
This is what we’re doing now“.

My instagram feed has changed dramatically over the last couple of months: yes, there’s still the odd pink peony arranged on a marble table-top with some Le Labo, egg-shaped Chanel hand cream and Bottega Veneta padded accessories plus the ubiquitous, pouty selfies, but many influencers seem to be talking less about themselves and more about bigger issues.

I’ve also noticed the recent sprouting of many non-traditional influencers: doctors, scientists and my absolute favourites, gynaecologists. The top OB/GYN tweeter has got to be Dr Jennifer Gunter, originally known for myth-busting the health claims Goop made about its various merch that was intended to be inserted in one’s vagina. She’s absolutely great, and if you are on twitter, a warm recommendation to follow her.

This development is extremely cool and healthy (and possibly a sign that I’ve officially become middle aged) and shows the acceptance to “this is what we’re doing now. This is how things are, and this is what’s important.” As red carpets have been rolled up indefinitely and nobody’s going to be stepping out anywhere, it also follows that no-one will pay this season’s facial contouring trends any mind.
(Skincare obsession is a different matter.)

If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me — they can“. It was Michelle Obama’s call to action for her compatriots, but we all always knew it was thus – we just wanted to believe being in control of our individual lives would keep us from harm’s way.
So much of our pre-pandemic lifestyles has been put to question lately that it’s been easy to forget how nothing that we have taken for granted is automatic (such as, rather shockingly, human rights and democracy).

I have not started taking sound baths or read the sequel to The Secret, worry not, I just keep thinking about this stuff a lot these days. I still consider Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff as the greatest recent self help to navigate life in unexpected situations. I absolutely cannot (apparently) not follow the news and stalk on social media, so Weltschmertz is real.
What I have come to realise is the following:

  • Notoriously the most uncomfortable bed is the one we make ourselves.
  • 99,9% of people are doing the best they can.
  • The grass is greener where I water it.
  • I cannot have a single more women’s empowerment video montage that ends with “vote for this man, he understands”.
  • Blessed be the tea.

And also, hope, apparently, springs eternal, as well as dies last.

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