As this year draws to an end, there is no doubt that for many of us, the seemingly endless Covid crisis feels like the song that doesn’t end.
Of course, after 2 years of this we have seen a lot of progress in our understanding as to what is going on, but it is easy to get swept up in the general ‘blah’ of a medical crisis no one expected and nobody asked for.
What good could be tweaked out of a shite-storm like this one?
Well, there may actually be small slivers of silver lining nudging the edges of the cloud that is the pandemic. You may have to mine deeply for these nuggets, but if you look, you will find them.
Priorities, for a start.
This pandemic has reminded many of us about what is actually really important, and what we can let go of.
Yes, yes, yes. We all love our friends and family. Or do our best to. But ask yourself this. Until this pandemic hit, how often did you fret about not being able to see the people you care about? We all want to spend time with our loved ones, but before the pandemic, if we couldn’t squeeze them this week, or month, or year, we would look forward to squeezing them next time.
The Pandemic took away the ‘soon’ part of ‘see you soon’, and many of us realised that the connections we took for granted were no longer ours for the taking.
We went online to do the simplest things. For many, it was not that simple.
At first it was awkward, those unfamiliar with the brutal realities of a front facing camera were suddenly being encouraged to tilt the phone down a little so that we don’t have to look at your nose hairs, but not THAT far, and MUM! Are you wearing pants??!!??
We got better at it, but it wasn’t the same. Grandbabies look gorgeous, but smell better. Arms that ached to hold someone remained empty and promises were made late at night that the first thing we would do is hold that person for the longest time as soon as this was over.
We didn’t just want to say “I love you”, we wanted to show it. When we met with friends after long absences of human contact there was genuine joy to be shared. It really was good to see them, and when we said it, we meant it.
The emphasis on visual perfection seemed to wane. Some of us decided to grow out our grey. Beards were grown and fiddled with. Waistbands expanded. Comfort became a default. For many, money became tighter, but rather than hide it, it was spoken about. Money is tight, things are not that great, this is hard.
Judgement was set aside. You can’t help what happened. You are not alone. We are all in this together.
Honesty was easier. How are you doing? I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m enjoying being alone, actually. I can’t stop shopping. I realise now why my partner was single until they were 40.
We learned to cook, or learned that we hated cooking, or gave up completely and ate beans from a tin. Did it matter? Not as much as other things.
We held meetings via zoom in our bedroom, with our junk just out of view. We looked at journalists living rooms as they reported from home and tried to see what books they were reading. We sometimes unexpectedly met kids or pets as they crashed ‘serious business’. We watched viral videos of disastrous online experiences and sent secret prayers to St Jude so that that would never happen to us, but we laughed WITH the lawyer with the cat face filter, not at him.
The pandemic taught us to expect the unexpected, and that shit really does happen.
Some of us became a bit crazy, or maybe we just didn’t have any place for our crazy to vent, so it expanded in a way our sourdough starter only dreamed about.
Some of us learned a new skill, quit a stupid job or became online millionaires, and some of us just did what we could to keep going, and all of us agreed that whatever worked for you was OK.
And that, right there, is a massive silver nugget.
We saw we are all human. We always knew that, somewhere deep down, but now we could see it.
From exhausted medical staff crying in their cars, to frustrated parents trying to run a household with only a computer monitor as a portal to the outside world, to those of us reaching out to that neighbour who lives alone, and the politicians who tried and failed and turned up to work even when they knew everyone hated them, to the tip you gave the delivery guy because he lost his regular job, and the days you just stood in your bathroom wondering what the hell was going on, we may not have realised it at the time, but we had struck that silver nugget.
Our humanity came into focus. It took a HUGE disruption to be reminded that beyond the veneer we cleverly coat ourselves in, we are all just people.
Flawed, complex, fragile but resilient creatures, sharing a planet with stuff beyond our control.
It has been truly heinous time, and it needs to go away now, but it will end up being seen as a time of painful growth. Like all horrible things, we will come away stronger…eventually.
And finally, 5 or 10 years from now, with the current crisis well away in the rear-view mirror, gratitude will be the legacy of COVID-19. That will be the silver lining that heals us and keeps us whole.