One of the most difficult challenges of the past 6 months is that we have been unable to mark the normal transitions of life – the ramifications of which will last for a long time.
Working from home blurs the lines between work and play, week and weekend. Sporting seasons have been expanded and contracted across their normal boundaries and have bled across one another. On the eve of what is arguably the most significant seasonal change – the start of the new academic year – it feels completely unlike any previous experience of this time of year.
Everybody has some memory of a first day of term. It might be the very first day of school or a move from one year to the next or changing from primary to secondary education. These are such significant transitions in our life and every year when they are repeated by a new generation the memory of our own fears and anxieties, our excitement and anticipation, reasserts itself.
Thanks to a combination of a freakish global pandemic and the remarkably inept government handling of it, sadly, for the children in the UK who have now returned to the classroom – in some cases for the first time in over six months – instead of a slightly unfamiliar new environment, they are stepping into completely unknown territory. And for how long? This summer has not been an end and a beginning as we have come to understand it but a move from a prematurely curtailed termination to a tentative start that might last a day, a week, a month… who knows? It feels like everything could change in a moment.
This isn’t good for us, we need the routines, the seasons, the ends and the beginnings. This ongoing disruption to the pattern of our lives is one of the most challenging adjustments that we have had to come to terms with. We thrive on routine, we need shape and structure. In the early days of the crisis the disruption to the usual patterns of our days and weeks was frightening, yes, but also exciting, presenting us with opportunities we could never have anticipated or planned for. People took up new hobbies or pursued long-forgotten dreams of mastering skills we felt we previously had no time to commit to.
The pandemic and our government’s chaotic response to it has upset everything we consider ‘normal’. With no discernible prospect of the situation improving sufficiently, we are struggling to cope, living on a knife-edge. The old pressure release valves – nights out, holidays abroad – now exist merely to remind us of how precariously balanced everything is. You get your evening in the pub or your week in Lanzarote but you risk not leaving home for the next 14 days. Is it worth it?
These uncertainties are damaging everyone. Generally, crises present opportunities for those with an eye to make a few quid from the suffering of others and the reports in the UK of lucrative contracts being awarded, no questions asked, to friends and cronies of people in power suggest that, in this, Covid is no different.
Except that it is.
Wealth might not make people happy but it can insulate them from many of the stresses and strains of life. The poor always suffer more, thems the rules! In this respect, the effects of this virus are no different – if you don’t have the space to distance yourself you stand a greater chance of contracting it and if you are in a poorer state of health it will damage you more – but there is no buying yourself out of it. There is no treatment or vaccine that is being withheld from the plebs (yet) so you somewhat take you chances along with everyone else.
There are few, if any, people on the globe that have not been impacted by the pandemic. The global disruption can only be compared to the world wars of the last century. It will take years, perhaps a generation or two for the ramifications to work their way out.
So, in the meantime, let’s look out for each other. Be safe but most of all be kind and be gentle.