What Does ‘Essential’ Mean Anyway?

Whilst working from home, I am trying to use many of my scheduled breaks for physical activity and getting into the fresh air.  I have recently invested in a bike to ride in the local area… and it was on one of these admittedly still wobbly rides recently that I was able to notice just how many businesses along the highway were closed.

We have been in Stage 4 Restrictions for some time now.  And it is increasingly challenging to stay close to home and do without some of the things we have taken for granted in our everyday lives – the capacity to drive a bit further to our favourite café for a coffee or a quick meal, to go to the shopping centre to browse for the perfect gift for a loved one, to play sport with a team and to spend time with friends in whatever ways were natural to you.

Now instead, we are asked to stay at home, unless going out for one of four essential reasons, and unless you are considered an “essential service” – all businesses are closed too.

In times like these, one of the things every household is learning I think, is what exactly is “essential”… what is essential to our wellbeing as well as to everyday making ends meet.

This gives us a new sense of appreciation for some of those little things we take for granted.

So what is essential to you in these times?

I am grateful for walks in fresh air with my dog.

I am grateful there are beautiful places to walk to within five kilometres of my home.

I am grateful for books that open my mind to new ideas and take me to places I cannot go right now.

I am grateful for the various kinds of media that allow me to stay in touch with friends and family. And that allow me to continue to offer constructive learning opportunities to my students.

I am grateful to those in my household who help keep me balanced, and to feel like I contribute positively to their lives as well.

I am grateful for online shopping – which keeps me well stocked with books, puzzles and soft wooly jumpers.

I am grateful to all those who still work in order to make sure the rest of us can live as positively as possible at home – especially to the health care workers who work on the front lines.

I am grateful for all the new things I have found that keep me happy and positive – puzzles, my new bike, new recipes, and so on.

This has been an opportunity for us all to really evaluate what is essential to us – the people and experiences perhaps rather than the material items.  And tough as these times are – maybe this lesson is a wonderful one to learn in such a material world.


Photo by Porapak Apichodilok