Six months since I was last at my desk in a quiet house. Six months since the pandemic drove the world to close borders and ground planes and shut people in their homes. Six months during which close to a million people globally have died from coronavirus. And now, in England, a tightening of lockdown rules again.
It’s still surreal that this has happened. That a pandemic of this nature can sweep across the globe. That our generation is living with this, and not some distant people, at a distant time. I wish it belonged in the history books. That we could carry on carefree lives in blissful complacency. How quickly the world can change. Even now, with the tentative opening up of communities, I catch strangers’ eyes and note the mirrored bewilderment with this new normality.
Except there has always been communities devastated by disease. What makes us think we were immune? What lessons we have been forced to learn during these long months. I wonder sometimes why there doesn’t seem to be a heavier sense of national and international grief about the lives lost. Maybe we’re protecting each other. Acknowledging the darkness means you have to face it. Some things are too big to comprehend.
There were those who had no choice but to confront the situation. I’m so grateful to the workers that kept going despite the risks: in health and social care, teachers, supermarket staff and local businesses that adapted to deliver essentials.
I hope that you have coped as best you could. That you have survived the loneliness and the worry, the duties of care and the burdens of responsibility while the world has been turned upside down. I hope that your health hasn’t suffered and that grief didn’t find you. I hope that the swirling pot of emotions that accompany a crisis were manageable. That somehow you found comfort and joy.
For us, joy was slower days, messy play with the children, walking the dog, good books and one precious beach day when the pup sprang in the surf and the children came away looking like urchins. Without travel, our town began to feel like a university campus. We discovered little gems: sunset walks through fields, local businesses, a deeper sense of community. Small pleasures made more meaningful because of the pandemic. Welcome distractions from dread-inducing headlines.
I miss an open world. I miss the freedom of just going off on an adventure without planning or fear. I miss a time when worry wasn’t my predominant emotion. I don’t know yet how the pandemic has changed me, but I hope it changes us all. That we are kinder and wiser and more aware of the fleeting nature of life. Some days, I’ve had to hide from the news. Often, my head is a haze but when the tiredness abates, I think this experience will make us double down to create a juster world. I hope that is so.
Still, hopes aren’t enough. Change takes ideas and commitment. And we’ve all had a potent reminder of how much is at stake.
Be well, readers.
Let me know how you are.