It’s Day 76 of the South African lockdown, and I have now blogged on 71 of the last 79 days. (I started my Lockdown Journal three days before the lockdown began.)

I have blogged about virtually every aspect of lockdown, COVID-19, and the state of the world during the pandemic. I devoted an entire post to my “airing of grievances” related to COVID-19, and have moaned or complained in every single one of my 70 previous posts.

I’ve blogged very little about the good things happening during lockdown. So that is what I’m going to do today.

Flowers in the garden, shot exactly 50 days ago on Day 26 of the lockdown. Somehow I never posted this one.

Following the tradition of my Jozi Tops Fives series, here are five good things that have happened to me during lockdown. You may have experienced some of these things too.

1) My world view has completely changed.

I see the world differently than I did before the pandemic hit. I can’t say I’m seeing things more positively, but I’m definitely seeing things more clearly and I’m really happy about that.

It’s not like I was blind to the inequalities in the world before all this happened, but I was semi-ignoring many of those inequalities. Not anymore.

I have become much more aware of my privilege in this world; I will never be able to forget it or take it for granted, not even for a second. I’m fully aware of the economic injustice, the racism, the gender inequality, and the flat-out cruelty that humans are inflicting on one another. I won’t stop thinking about it, or talking about it, or trying to do something about it, ever again.

We need to do better, humans. I’m watching all of you — myself included.

2) I’ve spent so much quality time alone.

Last night I realized I’ve been home alone every single evening and night for three solid months. This has never happened before, ever in my life since the day I was born. And I have to confess, I love it. I was never a night person anyway. And while I do miss my early morning boxing workouts, I can’t say I mind lying in bed a bit later each morning, either. Life moves more slowly now, and I like that.

I’ve also gained a whole new appreciation for the home I live in. I’ve photographed every flower and listened to every bird call. I’ve studied every feature of my cats’ faces and appreciated the time I spend petting and hugging them. They’re the only living things I’m able to hug.

Trixie the cat
Quality time with Trixie that cat — one of the best things about lockdown life.

3) I’ve changed my approach to shopping and food.

I refuse to hand my money over to big retail food chains unless I have absolutely no other option. I order my groceries from local food suppliers and center my diet around fresh, local fruits and vegetables. I cook actual healthy meals for myself, rather than subsisting on toasted cheese sandwiches and Woolworth’s veggie patties.

I refuse to buy sliced bread in a plastic bag. Fresh-baked bread from a baker is more expensive but totally worth it.

Food from Publik
Grocery delivery from two weeks ago.

I plan to take the same approach to clothes-shopping and all other shopping going forward — buying less, and supporting local/small businesses whenever possible. It feels great.

4) I’ve met wonderful new friends and reconnected with old ones.

If not for the lockdown, I wouldn’t have met Bongani and Bongi or the great people volunteering with the Melville food program. I feel like I’ve widened my circle of friends intentionally and purposefully, and I appreciate these friends in a way I wouldn’t have done before. I’ve also reconnected with old friends, some of whom I’d hardly spoken to in years, and it’s been wonderful.

My relationships with others are all I really have in this world. I won’t forget that after the pandemic ends.

Bongani and Bongi at African Accents
Here’s to new pandemic friends.

5) I’ve realized the power of this blog.

I’ve been blogging for a very long time — nearly ten years — and I wouldn’t have continued for this long unless I knew it meant something. But over the past 79 days, the power of this blog has blown me away and brought me an unspeakable amount of joy.

Because of this blog, I was interviewed in the New York Times and will forever be known as the American woman in Joburg who quarantined alone with her two cats.

Because of this blog, I have connected with people all over the world during lockdown. Quite a few of you signed up to support me on Patreon, even though I’m not able to provide the content I promised at the beginning of the year. I’ve received so many compassionate, supportive messages from readers. A lovely lady named Nancy, who I’ve never met and know nothing about other than she lives in America, sent me a gift voucher to my favorite local bookshop.

I have received so many donations from readers for the various causes I’ve highlighted during lockdown. I haven’t kept track of the amounts — as soon as you send me money, I just transfer it right over to the specified cause — but it’s definitely in the tens of thousands of rands. And those are just the donations I facilitated personally.

Many weeks ago, when I wrote about Kelvin — a handyman in Melville who left a note at my door, telling me about his struggle to find work during Level 5 lockdown — one of you sent Kelvin an e-wallet payment to help him keep his head above water. I don’t even know who it was. Kelvin was relieved and ecstatic.

Just yesterday, after I wrote about Mbali — the Underbridge Chef, selling lunches from her bright yellow food trailer in Milpark — two of you sent money to Mbali to help build her business. Mbali is beyond overjoyed — not just because of the financial support, but because she knows people value her contribution to the world. Thank you.

During this lockdown I’ve realized I have a real 2Summers family spread across the world. I don’t know most of you personally, or even virtually. I know most of you have never commented or sent me a message. But I know you’re there, and you’re reading, and my blog means something to you. Like Mbali, I know there are people out there who value what I do. I can’t explain how much that means, especially now.

This blog is everything to me, and that’s because of you. Thank you.

Heather hugging a tree
Thank you.

Today’s Featured Podcast

In honor of all things wonderful, I urge you to listen to this podcast episode called “Gobi”. It’s one of the best, happiest stories I’ve listened to during lockdown.

“Gobi” is part of the This is Love podcast series and it has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19, police brutality, facist politicians, or any other news story from the shit-show that is the year 2020. It’s a story about a man and a dog and (spoiler alert) it has a happy ending.

Please listen — it will be the best 20 minutes of your week.

Good night.

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