The situation is far from over, but in recent weeks we have been furnished with a growing number of returned liberties that incite a mixture of trepidation, excitement and relief. We are no longer locked inside, reliant on Zoom calls to socialise, or fearing that every time we go out for exercise we have to keep within one hour and be on the move at all times else be condemned by strangers spying out of windows.
There is so much more we are “allowed” to do at the moment and – whilst many of us are still reluctant to pile into the pub and overdo it – it does feel pertinent to appreciate and make the most of finally being able to do some of the things we missed so much. Of course, provided you’re wearing gloves and keeping the hand sanitiser close by.
Many are quick to warn of a second-wave, and they are right that the threat of that is very real if people don’t adhere to the guidelines. But do you know what?
I really don’t want to hear about things like that anymore.
Because it’s all well and good worrying about it, but if this pandemic has taught us anything (it’s actually taught us hundreds if not thousands of things) then it’s that life can take us by surprise, and be cut short any time.
Apart from all those wise folks meticulously scrubbing their hands and wiping their keyboards in January, pretty much most of us didn’t believe this pandemic would prove to be anything we should worry about. We carried on. We went into places. We saw our friends and family and greeted them with hugs. We booked holidays and dreamed of big things for 2020.
Then suddenly all of these things were snapped away from us like a plaster being ripped from a fresh wound – sudden, leaving a lingering sting – and we had no idea when we would be able to do them again.
Four months on, and there are still a vast many things are waiting for. Hugs. Meeting with friends and family without worrying about the number of households present. Feeling truly safe. Feeling truly free.
March, April and May in particular were three very distressing months for us all and I think the longer term mental health impacts of that time will ripple across society for years and decades to come, not least for those working on the front line or those unable to say goodbye to loved ones. I’m also fairly sure that the majority of these mental health impacts won’t even manifest just yet, but in time, when the reality of what we have all experienced really sets in.
But there is also a danger that we will do ourselves even worse mental damage by avoiding, through fear, the time we have to spend with those we care about. I find myself being marginally more concerned about this at the moment, than the virus itself. Three months away from loved ones is hard enough – but manageable – but how much longer should we abstain from making new memories? Time is so precious, the pandemic taught us, so does it really make sense to spend infinite amount of it zipped away? To me it doesn’t. I think we should be making the most of the time we have with people, but balancing it out with keeping safe. Not overdoing it by engaging in hedonistic displays of mass boozing and bathing, like a scary proportion are. Just having company, and appreciating the sheer ability to be able to spend time with people, is good enough for me right now. It also helps that the weather is good and we can spend this time outdoors within nature; which is not only safer but beats the sterile environment of a restaurant chain, where we might otherwise have met, any day:
To this end, this chapter may well be the last of my C-19 Internal Monologues, because even whilst the situation rolls on I’m not sure I want the topic to form the underlay of all my future posts until it stops. This will undoubtedly be thing the defines 2020 for all of us but it’s time to let other things play a part in the year now too.
I think it’s time to Look Back & Move On. Carefully.