This week we saw a year since lock down began, a year of living through a global pandemic, a global panic. Last weekend I watched Yuval Noah Harari talk at an online festival, about the world after Covid, and he said that historically, pandemics were thought to be natural disasters, and didn’t have much impact on history, or at least not the same impact as, say, a World War, which left behind art, literature, social comment. It made sense; but at the same time, the impact that the past year has had on individuals has been enormous, and I feel that we are, as individuals, in fact irrevocably changed.
This week has been a week of reflection, and I’ve seen many people on social media talking about their experiences, good and bad. Overall, it seems that people had to make choices as the world around them altered, letting go and learning, and that these choices, which seemed traumatic and desperate, lead to hugely positive changes.
I know that this is not true for everyone, just like I know how lucky I was to have had a great
lockdown (sun, family, the great outdoors, a pay-check that kept coming). I also know that we see ourselves reflected back through our social media, and that my world view is limited. But I wish people would stop apologising for making the best of what was a terrifying, miserable, alien, world-changing 12 months and then sharing it. Everyone did the best they could with what they had and focussing on the things that went well shouldn’t need to come with an apology as a caveat.
So what went well for me? I shut down my business and then discovered that I really, really, wanted to open it again, and then I did. I realised that if lockdown was an apocalypse movie I would be one of the extras that went hysterical and needed to be calmed down about two minutes in and probably didn’t make it to the next scene, but that I was okay with having these feelings because I was literally living through a pandemic and not every one has to be a hero. I spent a lot of time with my family, and realised that I loved them even more, and I spent no time with my friends, and I realised the same. I connected with people on social media in a way I hadn’t thought possible. I read, cooked, moved furniture around and drank lots of wine.
I don’t apologise for any of this, because even though being in lockdown was a never ending
summer of scallops and island gin, my lovely children and Hilary Mantel, it was all coloured by an increasing anxiety that at any second, someone might start coughing and it would end. The world would end.
So maybe you could say that in the great scheme of things a pandemic is only a blip in history, but we do not live in the grand scheme, we do not live in history. Each one of us can only live in the minutiae of our daily lives, and there, find our solace. Big changes or small ones, they are ours to own.