Somewhere in my deepest thoughts , the fantasy and desire exists that one day I am called upon to live through and witness a great challenge in the history of people.
You know, the kind of event that forged great generations and filled our ancestors with steel and quiet purpose.
Selfishly, it was about testing myself, or having something to quantify. My ego wanted to rise above a great challenge, thereby uncovering my unassuming inner hero.
Yeah, I’m not sure about that anymore…
All because of this tiny virus with vast reach.
The beginning of this week was too casual. I mocked the toilet paper madness, emboldened by the comfortable certainty that we had time and not much would change.
How quickly those certainties melt away when the extent of consequence makes itself known. How fragile the gossamer threads connecting our lives to confidence appear when playing the game of ‘if this, then that…’
There is not panic, per se, in the streets. Not yet. More, a tangible tension in the faces on the streets and supermarkets. The cafes are still full, but people are wary of what they touch. The space between us has lengthened with caution.
In light of this rate of change, where each pulled thread unravels another aspect of life affected by the Covid-19 virus and associated lockdown. Questions arise. How do we do that? What if that happens? Imagine if…
It is the stuff of science fiction. An invisible force, seemingly beyond our control and imagination, tearing the fragile boundaries of comfortable society to bits.
With each passing hour, each cancellation and closure, the elements of a rich life vanish and anxiety rises.
This is the challenge I wished for, I guess, and that original desire feels more stupid with each passing hour as the extent and impact of this crisis becomes clear.
Internally, a curious mix of big game nerves, fear and optimism exists inside. The nerves stem from anticipation of the vague uncertainty beyond ‘it will be very different’.
Fear needs no explanation.
Optimism comes from the belief that as human beings, we have a great track record of enduring difficult times. It may be misty eyed, but history tells me from a aggregate point of view, human beings tend to rise to such challenges.
Wise idiom says look to the helpers. Look for the best of humanity to get us through. Despite the worst aspects of us, too easy to see in the supermarket aisles and wobbly phone footage of shrieking fisticuffs, I still have faith in the best parts of us.
And either we can be part of the good, or fight that pensioner for the last multi pack of loo roll and add bad juju to the mix.
I plan to be a helper. I plan to accept the challenge and teach on, whatever that looks like. I plan to follow Neil Gaiman’s advice to make good art. I plan to lean in on the great artists, read great books and watch great films. I plan be a good friend, citizen, neighbour, teacher and colleague.
There is another side to this too – a hope that after all the turmoil and the buffering and tragedy of the storm, we reach the other side with better regard for one another.
I hope we get to the other side with a more hopeful view of the world. That we expect more from ourselves and our leaders. That we have a higher threshold for the truth and greater integrity.
That we are clear eyed and critical of the wealth of information available to us. Like Matt Nurse, in his war on misinformation.
I hope we remember to think of others first. I hope that we break down some of the echo chambers and learn to appreciation for the things that add flavour and depth to existence.
Family. Friends. Travel. Sport. Theatre. Music. Festivals. Cinema. Restaurants and cafes. Good conversation. All of it.