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The Chinese Curse of ‘May you live in interesting times’ is even more apt today than ever.
I was taking a moment to reflect on the roller-coaster of emotions over the recent days as Covid-19 has moved from a Contain to a Delay phase of pandemic control in the UK. We had been warned, and psychologically prepared by the government and media, but I was still struck with a feeling of numbness as I listened to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s, press conference on Monday stating we were now moving into the delay phase involving social distancing and ‘shielding’ or self-isolation for people with vulnerable health or over 70 years old.
I can remember a similar feeling when I heard the news about 9/11 attacks or when we went to war with Iraq, not once but twice, but those terrible situations whilst shocking and tragic, were at a distance, not directly affecting me or my comfortable life. This time it is different.
I am future facing in my outlook anyway having worked in and alongside health and care services and clinicians all my life. I was already thinking through the contingency plans I would need to make: how to organise fiercely independent (read stubborn) octogenarian parents and in-laws, my children due to do A-level and GCSE’s this year, my work and my clients, and how as a gregarious extrovert I would manage ‘isolation’ and ‘social distance’.
But yet emotionally I wasn’t prepared for the theory and plans in my head to have to become real!
Yes, I had bought some extra loo roll, pasta and dark chocolate, cat food and Guinea Pig hay (you can see how we prioritise) when I had been shopping the last couple of times. Not the spare bedroom or newly installed freezers of stocks some people I know have filled. But it was the dawning realisation that life would never be the same again, and we were in the midst of an emerging new ‘normal’ none of us had any idea how this was going to unfold.
• We didn’t know who would be sick and who would be well or asymptomatic
• We couldn’t go and see our older (I refuse, and would be physically and verbally abused if said elderly) parents, friends and wider family
• We couldn’t go to work and at some stage school
• The near future my children had mapped out with exams, holidays and hopefully university and driving tests was all uncertain
• We didn’t know if Mother’s Day, Races, Parkruns, Regattas, Birthday Parties, gatherings, trips to the theatre all planned would happen
• We didn’t know if our health services will be able to cope
• We didn’t know who may still be with us or who may not
All plans and levels of certainty were off – uncertainly was the new certainty!
And at one level I could rationalise that it was OK, as everyone was in the same boat and ( I try not to say ‘but’) BUT it is scary, uncertain.
In the absence of certainly and structure I turned to my consolation – scrolling through Social Media for comfort, news, perspective and sense making and whilst there is positivity and support balanced by fear and doom, one post stopped me short, and has helped to give me pause for thought and a renewed purpose
Posted by @mikechitty it was a extract from the System View of Life by Capra and Luisi entitled Complete Reset
I’ve been thinking about the paradox of connection, relationship, community and isolation and how I and We make this more meaningful for different times of now
I’ve been thinking about a Complete Reset – what is really important? Taking time to be deliberate, purposeful and not just busy, chasing and mindless
I’ve been thinking about what could I and We reset thinking about:
• psychical health and mental wellbeing
• life goals and purpose
• relationship with the environment
• relationship with economics and material consumption
• connectedness and new ways of relating
• local action and global impact
• health and care
• compassion and evidence
• planning and flexibility
• the speed of contagion – Covid-19 and ideas
• embracing new ways of working and being open to uncertainty
• providing reassurance and confidence with vulnerability
• kindness and selfishness
• positivity and negativity
• fear and hope
I don’t have the answers, but I have made a promise to myself to stay open and explore, feel and be through these times.
I promise to give myself the time and space to make as much sense as I can of my thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and to keep and create new connection with other likeminded people.
I promise to share, to support and to lift each other up as we navigate the opportunity for a personal, and hopefully bigger, #Complete Reset.
Jane Cryer 28.3.20