It was the worst of times, it was the best of times

Please forgive me. I’ve taken a little literary licence with this blog title; a play on the opening line to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

For those who haven’t read it, it’s a novel about Dickens’ belief in the possibility of resurrection and transformation, both on a personal and on a societal level.  Timely, as Easter is known as a time of resurrection and renewal in the Christian church.

And that’s where my thoughts are right now. Easter weekend 2020. Everyone’s lives turned upside down by COVID-19.

No travel, no socialising, no camping, no family get-togethers. None of us could have imagined at Christmas this situation we now find ourselves in. Lives, jobs, businesses, families, dreams … all changed. And neither the virus nor the imposed restrictions discriminate. We are all in the same boat.

So how do we find the positives in our everyday lives? What good is going to come out of this? We are all going to be changed – forever. The world cannot go back to its former ‘normal’.

I can obviously only speak for me, and what I see in my life. What I’m noticing though is that the electronic devices and social media platforms, that for so long now have been a barrier to old-fashioned social interaction, are being used to bring people together once more.

My workplace has the majority of staff working from home. Productivity has improved and people are having to communicate better. We use Zoom to get together for Friday drinks which lowers the feeling of isolation for those who live alone.

I haven’t been able to see my 86 year-old mother in over a month. However, we talk every day, and on the weekends we FaceTime. The ability to see each other as we talk means that we really feel as if we’ve spent quality time together, and we can read the body language to pick up on how we’re both doing emotionally.

My girlfriends and I have 4 o’clock Happy Hour on a Saturday using Zoom. We take the time to put on makeup, earrings and a nice top, and have a great laugh over a couple of glasses of wine.

There are a number of us who went to school together following a friend’s virtual trip of the UK. As they couldn’t actually travel she is posting daily on Facebook where they would have been and what they would have done, complete with photos of the location. It’s a fun journey, especially as I know some of the locations so well.

I’d really love to hug my daughters right now and tell them that my generation will leave the world a better place for them. They are both productively working from home and we communicate regularly.

It does seem like the worst of times.

My heart goes out to so many right now. Those who have lost loved ones. Those who are restricted to home, when home is not a safe place for them. Politicians worldwide who look tired and drawn. Those whose businesses will never bounce back. Bushfire victims who lost everything just 3 short months ago. They all need our support and love now more than ever.

I give gratitude for our amazing medical staff, and their support services, who are treating the sick and putting their own lives on the line every day. We don’t know when we are going to come out of this, we’re all unsure, and we will be paying for the economic stimulus for many years to come.

But it could also be the best of times.

Really tuning in to what others need. Neighbours supporting each other. True connection between people. The incredible, and very rapid, improvement to worldwide air quality due to a reduction in cars on the road and planes in the air.

The crystal clear canals in Venice after only one week of shut-down. Rapidly pivoting business models. Science moving quickly to find a vaccine. Time to read a book when ‘being busy’ used to be worn like a badge of honour. Societal, economic and mathematical modelling on which to predict, plan for and eliminate another threat like this, or worse, in the future.

Let’s work together to turn this into the best of times for the future. We can do it. This is our world, we are intelligent thinking and feeling beings. We can choose to be positive, optimistic and yes, even happy, and spread that energy outwards to those who need us to uplift them.

As the Buddha said, ‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.’

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash