The Coronacrisis feels as if it entering the age of confusion. Nobody quite seems to know quite what the rules are any more. Declarations come thick and fast. Lockdown is being eased; lockdown is being reinstated. It’s hard to remember what counts as a social bubble, how many households you can see, whether people are allowed to mix inside. We hear endless conversations which begin and end with ‘I don’t really know….’
This is profoundly unsettling for a lot of people. There’s also the expectation gap. There is a pressing human desire to believe that things will get better. Hooks of hope are held onto – there surely soon will be a comprehensive plan, a vaccine, a treatment. Surely? Some commentators seem to believe that the virus might magically disappear, in a puff of smoke. The lure of a return to normality sings its siren song. And there are glimpses of normality now, but they seem fragile and fleeting.
We are so used to working with people who face severe mental health challenges that we are very, very conscious of how all this can wear on the spirit. We think a lot about how tough it is for those on the front line, but it’s also hard for those who are simply trying to get on with their ordinary lives – who are determined to protect their children, look after their elderly relatives, keep the home fires burning.
We learn a huge amount about life from our horses. What horses adore is certainty. They like clarity. It makes them feel safe. They are happy when they have a routine and they understand their job. We think humans are not that different, in this. Constant change and uncertainty and lack of clarity can make the most robust mind feel out of balance.
So, as we go on through these long, unsure weeks, we learn to cling on to the anchors of certainty that are left in this shifting world. These can be the smallest things – the smiles a comical puppy can bring, the laughter of a friend (even if that is coming through a Zoom call), the sight of the clear Scottish sky over the mountains. We concentrate on the tiny things we can control: cooking something delicious for supper, giving the horses an extra brush, doing all the daily jobs that need doing and doing them to the best of our ability. When things seem dark, we try to root ourselves in the present and be grateful for all the things we have got, rather than the things we are missing. This is not always easy, but it does help. We hear the lines of the old song in our HorseBack heads: you’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. It’s not a bad rule for life.