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Look Up, 2020

Posted on 26/03/2020

Feature Image: Marzelle van der Merwe (@marz_merwe)

About the Author: Toni McCann is a trail runner with dreams of one day being able to run the whole of Platteklip, to make the perfect frothy oat milk coffee and to complete a whole 1000 piece puzzle in 24 hours.

There was a point at the start of the year where everything seemed to be in place for a 2020 unlike any I could ever have dreamt about. It involved racing overseas, starting with Mt Awa in Japan, as part of the skyrunning world series. I would get to Japan in time to see the Cherry Blossoms – a bucket list experience. I had just signed on with a new sponsor – FACES Africa – a hardworking and incredible team dedicated to social upliftment and growing the sporting industry in South Africa. Plans had been put in place to spend 3 months in Italy training and racing in the European skyrunning circuit. Training was going well; despite the minor hip hiccup I had dealt with in January. All too good to be true?

Image: Jordi Saragossa (@jsaragossa)

Well, we are now staring down the barrel of a 21-day lockdown. Italy is a literal no go zone. Japan has been cancelled. And pretty much everything about my ‘plan’ for the year has gone to… well. You know. Poop. 

Despite the personal devastation at my current situation, I think it’s safe to say that my problems are pretty minor in the greater scheme of things. I don’t think I need to harp on about the implications that the COVID-19 Virus in South Africa will have on the lives of all our people, the small business owners, the retrenchments, the overwhelmed medical field, the list goes on. It is important to acknowledge these ‘bigger picture’ things, to help put things in perspective. It is also important, however, to understand that your personal emotional state is valid. You’re allowed to be sad and upset about your situation. You’re allowed to mourn missed opportunities and things you were excited about. It’s okay. 

At the beginning of the year I always choose a word or phrase that speaks to me, and that I try to embody throughout the year in all I do. This year I chose ‘Look Up’ (Yes, I stole it from a very cute feel-good movie, Last Christmas). To me it means to figuratively (and literally I guess), look up, to take time out of our busy lives to see the small things, the good things we so often miss due to being too busy. It means taking the time to stop and speak to the neighbor or friend you’ve been avoiding or neglecting. It means picking up that hobby that you used to love but have since stopped because you had ‘no time’. It means looking out for the opportunities to grow, the opportunity for adventure or the opportunity to build relationships. 

Having a positive outlook has never been more important – on both a personal level and for our nation. Speaking as a busy body who constantly has ants in her pants, being positive now will take the form of looking for ways to stay busy at home for 21 days and not dwelling on the fact that will not be allowed on the trails or see my friends and family. Be it through doing puzzles, reading, meditation, running up and down my flight of stairs in my block and family chat rooms. Positivity on a larger scale will take the form of acting as a socially responsible part of our community, avoiding contact, leaving home only for essential purposes (no, jogging/dog walking is NOT essential Mkhize), and supporting the local economy and small businesses as best I can. 

As much as a 21 day lockdown is going to be hard (I am living alone, you don’t have to tell me), it is also a time to wind down, reflect and get in touch with yourself. Take this time to be grateful and grow. To learn something, finish that book, do 100 sit ups. View it as an opportunity. LOOK UP and be grateful we have the support of one another, a home, a family.

The time will come that I will be able to visit my family again, to walk or run on the mountains, travel and race. Until that time, I support our governments call to isolate. Until that time, I am looking up. 

Image: Marzelle van der Merwe (@merz_merwe)

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