The end of the pandemic is in sight. Here’s to the new roaring 20s
I went into town yesterday for the first time in months. The Christmas lights were twinkling, hung uniformly between the ornate buildings we usually never notice.
They seemed brighter this year, despite the undisputed awfulness of 2020. Or perhaps that was because I just so happy to see them, to see the celebration of joy, to appreciate the buzz of those with nothing on their minds besides finding a gift for someone they love, or maybe even just some sparkles for Christmas day.
Of course, we still live with the virus. We are under strict orders to keep our distance and minimise our socialisation but for the first time in many many weeks, things felt a tiny bit normal.
This week the first batches of the Covid vaccine snaked their way through Dublin port, icy cozy at their optimum temperature, the little bottles of hope arrived into Northern Ireland ready for the first round of healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
The WHO has warned us not to get complacent, despite this ray of hope. But it is hard not to grasp at the shiny optimism that this breakthrough symbolizes.
I am ready to get back to normal but all of us have had to tweak our expectations, our hopes and perspective on LAC (Life After Covid)
I wrote recently about some of the habits I plan to retain or ditch – more outdoor activities, less mindless socialisation, more commitment to my ambitions. Squashing your life into nothing but your four walls tends to focus the mind. But the consequences of the pandemic, besides the obvious devastation for those who’ve lost loved ones, is an irreversible change.
A friend of mine lives with a partner who has extreme anxiety about the virus. So much so that he was adamant that even in accordance with the restrictions, he didn’t want her around anyone at all. She works from home so the only respite she got from the prison that became her home was a short walk around the neighbourhood.
She began lying to her partner about having business meetings back at the office so she could meet some friends – just for a walk, or a glass of wine outside. A tiny betrayal but one that was born out of Covid.
The anxiety overwhelmed us all but some more than others. Another friend hasn’t seen her parents since March. They live in the same county but she was so petrified of infecting them that she just stopped seeing them completely, even when restrictions eased. She couldn’t live with the possibility that she could be responsible for making them sick or worse.
The strains are starting to show. Social media is full of accusations about too many people at the beach or outside a bar or cars on the road. We are starting to turn on each other. The early days of community and compassion have risked turning into something more sinister – resentment, jealousy, frustration.
A child in my son’s class has developed a disproportionate fear of germs to the extent that he needs counseling. He is 8 years old. We have been conditioned to the shouty yellow and black Covid warnings to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE at the tills of the supermarkets but the idea that we are toxic to each other has deep implications for how we interact, even when this ends.
We are still bursting to appreciate all the things we’ve missed – meals out, hugs, holidays, concerts. That’s why this Christmas will be so unforgettable. But once the tinsel mist has settled and we face into the bleakest of Januarys, we need to slowly unpick the people we’ve become, unravel the coil of resentment and suspicion about our frivolous neighbours.
As we float towards the light at the end of the tunnel, this self-reflection will also stand to us in a positive way. Our decisions will be sharper, more constructive, increasingly deliberate. Because the choices that have been taken from us are what fuels desire.
We are not there yet, but fueling ourselves on hope and positivity instead of frustrated resentment is enough for now
Expect a new roaring 20s to emerge, bursting with creativity, entrepreneurs, passion-following, innovation – a decade filled with those seizing the day…because they finally can.
A recent conversation with friends revealed that ‘living in the moment’ is the biggest “take-home” from the past year. It’s a lesson worth hanging on to. For me it is appreciating all the little things. The big little things, like stopping in the middle of Grafton street to admire the twinkling lights for longer than usual. I’m ready to look up more.
They symbolise our collective celebration of joy (and potentially the prospect of new shoes). They are my light at the end of the 2020 tunnel, and I think we are all ready to escape the sticky murk of this year.
We are not there yet, but fueling ourselves on hope and positivity instead of frustrated resentment is enough for now.
Carpe Diem. Here’s to an infinitely twinklier 2021.
Image via Unsplash.com