Music has a way of bridging what is in the head and heart. It gives us something to work with that has meaning when there are challenges.  

I woke up today in Melbourne Australia’s sixth lockdown. And here we are again.

Many places around Australia and the world are contending with the start and stop of lockdowns (snap or otherwise), and we all feel its consequences.  

What we once knew as normal professional, personal and community activities in a day have significantly altered over the last 18 months. The experts maintain it is for the greater good. Pivots and swivels have enabled some to manage, even thrive, while others are not so fortunate. 

It’s a continuing story we are living to tell. And to be frank, some are not living to tell it.

Can’t help myself but think we are on this merry-go-round, going round and round. And are we getting anywhere? 

I’m reminded of Joni Mitchell’s song, ‘The Circle Game’ and the lyrics about ‘being captive on a carousel of time’.  She writes,

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

To me, this song relays wisdom that can be realised over time. We can look but not actually go back in time. And we can also have hope to gain something in the present as we go round and round. Maybe even reach new ground.

If we are evolving as humans (and as a society) amidst this present pandemic, acknowledging the angst and suffering it is causing, then we are moving in a budding direction. The eastern wisdom traditions relay that suffering is merely part of our life and there are ways toward something better. 

But at a minimum, the real disruption in our lives is loud and clear.

Being ‘captive on a carousel of time’

Living with anxiety and depression for most of my life, the daily cycle of waking up often feels like being ‘captive on a carousel of time’.

It is my normal, COVID-19 lockdown or not, to wake up with a heavy and shadowy fog blocking any light. This is not that nice and comforting feeling that some get from a gentle haze in the morning wanting to stay under the warm doona covers a minute or two longer. 

It is often a dreadful and intense experience. A seemingly impenetrable barrier to the light and clarity. 

Sometimes I am unable to feel past the substantial weight on my chest. My mind too is clouded. 

I used to fight it with tooth and nail but as the ‘seasons they go round and round’, years passing and with much guidance, I am now able to give it the space it needs to be acknowledged. Then over time it disintegrates to a reasonable level. 

The mental affliction of comparison to others can be loud at these times. The feelings of resentment, judgment and shame rear their ugly heads for not being able to rise with the sun and do what others do.

But the simple reality is that I take medicine to quell the anxiety and depression. I take it to enable sleep too. This then has a hangover effect, which is part of the clouds that are covering clarity in the morning. There is also past experiences and conditioning. From any reasonable sense, it’s obvious that mornings would be difficult. 

Deliberate acts in time of need

So with the grace of observing nature, there are things we can do to minimise our misery when it seems that life is unfair. 

Pandemic lockdowns included seemingly ‘captive on the carousel of time’.

Do deliberate acts. 

For me, I move slowly in the early hours. I savour a coffee. I sit between my two faithful and loyal, dogs. I repeat mantras or listen to inspiring teachers and music. I receive an embrace from one of my children or husband. I breathe out. Again and again. 

Slowly but surely it makes a way or path through the resistance.

I place a hand on my chest where the constriction seems to reside and offer self-compassion. 

I try to give way and even comfort the feelings that are ever so uncomfortable. 

There is an opportunity to accept the reality of whatever I may feel. So that it may pass. 

Being in nature, for me near the sea gives many insights.

Clarity seeps in with the light.

As we continue to ‘circle round and round’ during these unsettling times, may we also advance in some way toward individual and collective understanding.


  • Dr Deb Roberts has a PhD in public health. She is a writer, speaker, yoga teacher and mental health advocate. American born, she lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, three sons and golden retrievers Sparky and Indi. You can read more of her writing on her blog.