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Showing posts from April, 2020

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 11: earth day and apples

I have posted an i-phone photograph of the sunrise, on Instagram, every morning, for the past 22 days. And I am exhausted. But not so exhausted that I am tempted to stop. Not yet. Small things give purpose to the day. Particularly, when day after day we are in lockdown and the world looks more different than we could ever have imagined. There is something anchoring in seeing the sunrise. Maybe, it harks back to a deeply-rooted instinct that looks to the sun for reassurance. Maybe, it is my way of finding a constant - if the sun rises then I can too. I can begin my day. The coronavirus has altered the world we live in, but the earth hasn't changed. Or has it? Arguably, the earth has changed - Across the industrialised world, industry has shut down and commuting to work has all but ceased. As a result, pollution levels have collapsed. The WHO estimates that the smog caused by air pollution kills over 1.5 million people a year in India. Now the air is so clear that the H

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 10: being first

There's a first time for everything. Some firsts are met with deserved celebration. Some with derision. Some with despair. Some with a 'Huh,' and a shrug and a 'well, there you go - it was bound to happen.' That my laptop didn't try to correct  covid-19  in the title above, or just now for that matter, is one of those shrugging, almost sighing but actually can't be bothered to expend the energy that a sigh would require firsts. It was inevitable. Say something or type something enough times and it becomes the norm. Which is an intriguing thought - maybe we could invent a word and see how long it takes to get picked up by others. But hang on a minute this happens already. Lexicographers such as those working for the OED make their living out of tracking the evolution of language - the appearance of new words and the loss of old ones. As the coronavirus pandemic marched across a stricken world, covid-related words splurged all over our inboxes; social media

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 9: storytelling

When you're a parent you do anything, absolutely anything, to help and nurture and protect your children. This is seldom easy. Currently, it's even harder and we are left dreaming of the seldom easy days. I just read the lyrics to Paul Simon's song, Bridge Over Troubled Water and yes - that; all those words. That is exactly who I am. Those words, written 1969, encapsulate what I aspire to be, today, as a parent with every atom of my being. This  is me - I will dry your tears; I will comfort you; I am there when you need a friend. I don't want to breach copyright law so I thought it best not to print the whole song. It's easy to find on the internet though - search for it, read it, and see if you weep like I did. These days tears seem to be closer - lingering always nearby - ready to run at the smallest trigger. I observe a collective erosion of resilience in those around me at work, online and at home and in response, a steady growth of mindfulness, yog

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 8: constants

Constants - those rooting things that never change. Those things that we depend upon. That ground us firmly in who and where we are. The things that if removed would be replaced by chaos. When I was thinking about what to write,  I clumsily started to input c-o-n- into my phone and up popped the suggestion 'consonants.' Consonant - definition: any speech sound that is produced by stopping the air flowing freely through your mouth - 'f', 't', 'z', 'm' ... etc, and also any written letter that is not a vowel. By substituting the t in constant with the on in consonant my phone unwittingly suggested something that at first glance might appear to be constant but is not. Language evolves and changes - even its letters; its building bricks. Not all of the vowels and consonants we take for granted today are the same as the ones known, for example, by Shakespeare. If we go further back in the history of the English language, to Chaucer, they are

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 7: self help

Self and help, as in the title above ... we all know what self is. It's me. It's who you are to you. And help ? We understand that too. But self help . Do we really know what that is? Or more importantly, do we know how to practise self help? Or where to find it? Or if we find it, what to do with it? And why we should bother? Let's start at the beginning; with a definition - Self help is the assistance one gives to oneself. This assistance is achieved through the solving of personal problems ... what does that mean? Basically one turns into a hunter-gatherer, tracking and trapping helpful resources which are then used to benefit oneself. Hmmm ... there are too many ones and oneselves here ... essentially you search for things that will help and then do whatever those things are. Self help - done properly - results in improved resilience and wellbeing. Thus, self help is good. It sounds easy-ish. But the -ish becomes more heavily weighted when the world is being t

Life in a time of covid-19 - part 6: the unseeing eye

Crime drama usually has that pivotal scene where a witness is asked to recount what they saw. For the reader or television viewer this is an expected and hotly anticipated part of the story - the part where the detective will hopefully discover some small nugget upon which the investigation will turn. The unfolding story hinges entirely upon an accurate recall of what was seen. Skilled storytellers, who understand human psychology, will show how tortuous this recall can be. Ask yourself what colour of shirt and tie, or dress, the newsreader on television last night was wearing - you watched him or her speaking, between newsreels, for the half an hour or so of the programme. How accurately do you recall - not what he or she said - but exactly how they looked? When the police ask, 'What was the suspect wearing?' they don't expect their witnesses to give accurate answers 100% of the time. Witness testimony is notoriously unreliable; in cases that were overturned after DNA e