Back in early March, a friend commented that there’d probably be more divorces after lockdown. I laughed, but she looked at me perfectly seriously. Apparently, she wasn’t joking. “Really?” I smiled incredulously. I couldn’t quite believe it. Since then I’ve read in the Sunday papers that they think that it’s quite likely. In fact, many of us will emerge from this crisis changed and this break from the norm may give people the courage to connect with their inner truth and finally let go of things that weren’t quite right. Careers and unfulfilling jobs may be lost or abandoned and superficial friendships ended. It seems that the world is undergoing a personal and private revolution!

Judging from all of these changes people want to make it appears that in pre-coronavirus times many people were unknowingly leading lives of ‘quiet discontent’, to quote Thoreau. As our daily lives slow down during lockdown, we can see with greater clarity as we have been granted the space to reassess, reflect and re-embrace personal hopes and goals that had maybe fallen by the wayside. This post-lockdown phase is a chance to ask ourselves: what were our dreams in the first place anyway?!

However, before we decide to train as teachers, kick our husbands out, dye our hair pink and take up paragliding, let’s not be too hasty and remember that seemingly better alternatives do not necessarily lead to improved circumstances. French Existential philosophers Sartre and Camus explored the idea of a ‘malaise’ or subjective feeling of discontent that, as humans, we experience, a void from within in the midst of our lives that we can’t quite explain; so we need to be careful not make changes just for the sake of filling that void, as projections of our future lives and future selves may turn out to be illusory.

During lockdown, community spirit has soared and there has been an awakening to the importance of collective collaboration. As a society, we will hopefully ‘go beyond,’ rather than ‘go back’ to the way we were.

Our homes may increasingly become the epicentre of our lives, so we’ll have to work on our local ‘connectivity creating opportunities to stop and chat with a neighbour about the amazing chocolate brownies we made this morning needing only five ingredients and inviting each other to local events via Zoom.

If life becomes more local, that certain sophisticated urbaneness we once had will be replaced with comfortable shoes and sports gear. We’d chat about our wonderful week in Cornwall, the beautiful sunsets and camping out at night under starry skies instead of spending thousands on long-haul holidays jam-packed with activities and shopping.

Through this tragedy, so many lives have been lost and families bereaved. Faced with these last two challenging months, the values we attached to possessions and status have shifted and we are maybe becoming more focused on humanitarian issues and we can hopefully move forward as a collective with the goal of wellness, compassion and service to others. The world has a chance to reinvent itself. We have an opportunity to take some space and contemplate our priorities. Journalist Tobias Jones talks about how the lockdown has made everything local and how we have now realised that “well-being isn’t individual, but social.” This is a unique time and once things resume, we must be careful not to unlearn everything.

For now, it is a time of relative retreat, solitude and stillness. I read the weekend newspapers in my sunlit garden, slowly sipping coffee. Thick lush leaves add richness to the space. The first peonies are blossoming, and they are simply stunning. I love the way their abundant petals interleave, the way the deep pink flushes outward and a bold flower is born. I pause to look up at the powder blue sky, take a deep breath and realise how very precious life is and hope that we can all find more inner peace and contentment as these strange days flow by.

  • Marisa Laycock moved to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city. These columns are also available as podcasts from 92.6FM Radio Verulam at .