Ihave seen a lot of angry posts recently, about people using their Covid lockdown “hour of exercise” to sit around outside, not “exercising properly” at all.
So this letter is for the people who have gone outside and, instead of walking or jogging, just sat down.
Dear Sitting Down Person,
First of all, Happy Easter. I hope you’re having a good day, and if you’re missing loved ones, you’re not alone. I hope your loved ones are safe and that you see them soon.
As regards you using your allowed “hour of exercise” to sit in the park, or on a beach or on a bench, I hope it’s warm and sunny and that you have a lovely view — and that local passers by say hello and wave and smile. I hope you have a chance to chat, and that you make it home before it rains.
I also hope you can ignore all the messages on Facebook and Twitter, complaining about people who “just sit outside”, who aren’t doing “proper exercise”. All the messages I’ve seen so far come from people with able-bodied families who can’t see inside you and don’t understand how life can be for other people.
For the ones with arthritis, you may have braved all kinds of pain to make it 400 yards to that bench and your 20 minutes of sitting is spent partly feeling proud that your children can now enjoy a few minutes running around on a beach, but also worrying whether you will get back home OK and still have the strength to make dinner.
For the ones with degenerative muscle conditions, you might be the slowest giant in town, but no matter how many times you need to stop and rest, or how much you worry about being in people’s way, if you don’t keep trying you will lose the ability to walk.
For the ones with heart conditions, the same. You know you’re supposed to be isolated to keep yourself safe, but your child needed to run, and the stress of being alone at home all day was making your arrhythmia kick off. It’s hard to tell which is scarier — your condition or the virus — but at least this way, your child can thrive.
For the ones bent double with anxiety — you were enjoying your walk, but the lady who shouted in the car park didn’t realise that your coin didn’t work and with the bills and no work and the isolation, dammit, you just need to sit and stare for one moment.
For the one whose family member just died, you don’t give a shit right now, she was your world. You stare at that horizon, remember her.
For the one who hasn’t eaten enough, the one who didn’t sleep last night, the one whose OH beat them last night, the one whose leg is healing but still hurts, the one who is frightened of being pregnant right now — and also about to throw up, the one whose epilepsy meds or anti-depressants should hopefully be ready this afternoon — and the other ones, all the other people with their many, many journeys — stay well, stay safe, stay 2-3 metres apart, but by all means, enjoy your hour of being out there, at your own pace, as still and quiet as you need.
This time will pass, but for now, at least there’s still a sky to stare at — and you are, I promise, not alone. If I walk past and look at you, I am wishing you all the health and happiness in the world.
And my message to everyone who has posted angry words about the people “lying around outside” — you think these reasons are a minority? I have been a couple of them, and I know all of them (and many more). Sometimes I see them sitting in the park, and I’m glad they’re still here.
Happy Easter to you, too.