From a distance
Reflections from a home front: 7
It’s the worst of times. But also, in some corners, the best of times. Bad news for the elderly, the economy and those still in formal education; good news for Amazon and – for that matter, maybe – The Amazon.
It depends, of course, on who you are and where you are and also perhaps on what you are. How you feel about being in isolation, for example, might depend on what kind of animal you happen to be. Meerkats are scrabbling at the walls; sloths are hanging cool and couldn’t be happier.
Some of those having a better time seem to find it a tricky admission. For few enjoying quiet pleasure wouldn’t feel a twinge of guilt when the world is in pain. It’s partly social conditioning. It looks inappropriate to be enjoying ourselves when others aren’t. We can also shift the blame, at least partially, onto our poor old brain. In its drive for efficiency, it prefers to file things in neat and tidy categories. A this or a that; a good thing or a bad thing. But only partially. We do of course have the ability to move beyond facile judgment, to hold uncertainty and to stay with conflicting, layered emotions. But it’s a kind of wisdom and we have mature into it. We have to learn to accommodate and appreciate nuance, complexity, ambiguity and paradox – and to navigate amongst them.
As so many have observed, these things have been disappearing from a public discourse that tends to black-and-white binaries – as evidenced by the whole sorry Brexit affair. But perhaps now, in this very different kind of crisis, it may be easier to see the texture of a bigger picture. Perhaps, as we enact the tensions of the situation within our own lives – mourning a friend’s death even as we clap for the NHS – we’re apprehending more of our entangled reality.
Perhaps the distance we now feel, from each other and from normal life, might afford the kind of perspective we need to reset our course. Perhaps, from the distance of years to come, we could be celebrating the legacy of the best.
Of course any kind of final balance is a long way off – as if these things could be put in the scales anyway. But the eventual reading will be up to us.
The world’s invaded by some viral strain.
Contagious care can never be contained.
So long the queues; so scarce delivery slots.
We bake our daily bread, we tend our plots.
School’s out; we’re on indefinite staycation.
We’re in for an exclusive education.
Performances are pulled from every stage.
Play spills across the screen and down the page.
No trips are now advised; all flights have ceased.
Just bird song carries on the sweetened breeze.
Two metres’ rule has pushed us all apart.
We pull the strings that stretch between our hearts.
Within the pupal shroud all things dissolve
And secretly refold, and in the spring –
Behold, the blaze of unsuspected wings!
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