At the start of lockdown, my daughter-in-law would make a short video at the end of each day of thing her family had done, a two-minute clip of craft activities, learning activities, fun in the garden and mealtimes to remember this unusual time. After a week or so the videos would appear every other day or so; after a few weeks, once a week.
Why did she stop making daily videos? Largely because the ‘novelty’ of lockdown soon wore off and a new routine was established which seemed quite repetitive and boring. Somebody reinvented the boardgame ‘Monopoly’, renaming it ‘Monotony’, to reflect the feelings most of us have had during lockdown.
We might have joked about the view from the living-room compared to the view from the kitchen or tried to make light of cancelled holidays by talking of going to the ‘Costa Del Garden’ in the sunshine, but in truth, we have struggled because our everyday lives feel so repetitve that most of the time it’s hard to even remember what day it is.
If we are honest, though, there is much repetition, routine and boredom in our everyday lives even when we’re not in lockdown. Our work, schoolng and usual routines aren’t always ‘worth videoing’, we reason, because ‘sameness’ features so often. It’s why we make such a big thing of holidays and days out exploring new places and trying new activities.
G. K. Chesterton once wrote about monotony in a more positive light, prodding us to wonder if God ‘is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again”, to the sun, and every evening, “Do it again”, to the moon… It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy.’ I have often wondered if our capacity for boredom and dislike of repetition means we have lost the childlike capacity for wonder.
The child finds no discomfort in repetition; any game soon becomes beloved (‘Do it again!’) – it is the adults who find this tedious; it is the adults who find repetition mind-numbing. Perhaps what lockdown can teach us that there is a value in what seems boring; joy can be found even in the mundane aspects of life. The challenge to adults to learn to be like little children who have the capacity to simply live life in the now and who can find wonder in just about everything.