Can anyone remember a time when the whole world has been so affected in unison? Even during the second world war, some countries remained neutral. We have watched in horror as country after country has fallen to the COVID-19 virus, like tenpins floored by an invisible spiky ball. But the unseen enemy has created in its wake, a world group empathy. No matter your colour, creed, or age, we have all felt vulnerable and sympathised with those affected.
Are there any bright spots shining in what has been the darkest of years? Being an eternal optimist, I think so. As ghastly as this nightmare has been, we see that despite differences, the world can pull together. For instance, scientists and medics have shared information for the common good, resulting in a vaccine they think will engender herd immunity.
Did you slow down during the lockdowns? I think everyone did. Stopped from the rush of our hitherto busy lives we had time to reassess, realise what’s important, and recalibrate. We’ve become aware of our neighbours, helped those in need, and instead of procrastinating, have actually contacted old friends! People have learned to cook, paint, play the piano, taken up yoga, turned their neglected backyards into paradise gardens or productive vegetable plots. Life has become more than just work. We’ve exercised more, and when the powers that be at last realised we were in danger of losing our sanity, were able to do that exercise in the fresh air!
Senior citizens who previously treated computers and the internet with distrust, have overcome their fears and are Zooming madly to friends and grandchildren. Indeed, we have all connected, and I’d like to think that this web of empathy surpasses all the political shenanigans that still carry on ( did I mention I’m an optimist!).
Earlier in the year we watched as the air cleared and the sun shone in a sky more exquisitely blue than many had ever seen, as in Van Gogh's Almond Blossoms (left). It showed us more effectively than just reading about it, that mankind is polluting this planet. It proved what air quality could be like if only we supported environmental efforts more.
But the most important change is surely the awareness of our need for human contact. How much we miss the buzz of conversation, the warmth of hugs from friends and family, and how fresh air and exercise are so important to our wellbeing. There are comical times too – take the need for social distancing – having to do a little dance around a passerby. If viewed from above, a crowd of people waiting for a bus or train would look like a group of individuals taking part in a bizarre game of human chess, or maybe even a solitary foxtrot! All this avoidance is such an alien activity, especially in small, friendly villages like mine.
So, if 2020 has been the year when we were denied the things we love, 2021 will be the year we will be truly aware of how important these things are. I'm sure we will now value these things more.
As I write, Christmas has been ruined for so many people due to further restrictions on travel. My heartfelt sympathy goes to all who have found this year difficult to bear
and to those who have lost loved ones. I hope you manage to enjoy your Christmas Break in whatever form it takes, if not with your families then perhaps a chilly chat in the garden with a neighbour, or a virtual hug with someone you love on FaceTime or Zoom. "Play the music maestro" - we can dance a solitary foxtrot down the street!
Looking forward to a Happier and Healthier 2021 for you all!