I can't quite believe that I'm here, writing another 'Life in a time of covid-19' blog - the sixteenth. Maybe I'm stuck in a covid loop of covid blogging. Maybe it's time to stop. I like the number seventeen, so maybe there will be a seventeenth, and then something different. For now though - getting back to the sixteenth - what a year we have had. What a time we live in.
What ... I stare out of the window ...
what ... I massage my shut eyes, smearing my glasses with my fingers ...
what about what comes next? Dare we think of that? Specifically, the what of what comes next.
Time will tell. What a cliche! Well, yes, but it's a cliche that is true. Time will, indeed, tell. But the problem is, we want it to tell us now. We want to know. We want to be able to see past the doom-laden news; the heavy, relentless headlines, delivering unbearable numbers, every hour of every day. We want the future to tell us, now, how it will turn out. We want to know! Because not knowing is horrible.
What will it be? The when of what it will be is the younger sibling here (I've been watching too much 'Bridgerton' - a period drama where younger siblings always take second place: it's very good escapism if that's what your lockdown self is after). The when and time itself, has been distorted by lockdowns, bent into days that congeal into weeks, and weeks that pile upon each other like falling dominoes or cyclists crashing in a race - one goes down and the whole peloton falls - until our weeks are a heaped-up mess of twisted, spoiled intentions and dreams that barely began. Perhaps hopes should replace dreams there - hopes that barely began; the hopes that were beaten down every time the statistics got worse, every time the pandemic dealt another blow. Hopes and dreams - another cliche and one that we all possess. But hopes and dreams always have a timescale. That timescale is woven into our ideas of future and it is that future that we want to know. We want to know the what - not necessarily the when - of our futures. Impatience might demand the when, but the what is so much more important. We want to know if we can seed new dreams. If there is any point in doing so?
I would say, yes. Resoundingly. I don't know yet, exactly what the what is. But yes, there is a point - there must be. Mainly because to think the alternative is the path to despair.
If we give in to fear. If we allow ourselves to be drowned by it, then the what of our futures dies too. For giving in to fear is giving up. And giving up is something we cannot allow ourselves to do. We owe it, to everyone we share this precious planet with, not to give up. Giving up would expose us to much greater danger. Because giving up is not believing that there is a future. It is not an option. Neither is believing in conspiracy theories and breaking the lockdown rules. Giving up and breaking the rules - each of these is wrong; each is storming Capitols; each is failing to wear a mask; each is not isolating; each is failure - absolute and complete failure.
This blog is a rant - I could apologise, but for me and for you I refuse to. I will feel fear but not succumb to it. Anyone who knows me will know that I wear a hat that says this person will worry for you so that you don't have to. I worry. I am a worrier. I am incapable of not worrying. But worry is one thing and fear is another. Give in to fear and you become paralysed. Embracing worry, on the other hand, is like drinking endless cups of strong coffee. It energises you - yes, in an utterly exhausting way - but it keeps you awake and alert. And it forces you to do stuff. You make lists. You text your children every day. You sort things. You hoard ... only a little, I promise. You plan. And you hope.
A worrier can be a glass half full or a glass half empty person. I am the latter. And it is a rational choice. If your view of the world is a glass half empty one, then most of the time things will turn out to be better than you had anticipated. You will be pleasantly and often surprised.
So, it is with my glass half empty that I wear my worry-hat to worry about the what of what is to come.
And it is wearing another hat - my doctor hat - that I look this pandemic in the face and tell it that our vaccines will eventually restore to us the hopes and dreams that are our futures. Until then, I will stay home, stay safe, and follow the guidelines. And you should too.
I don't know the answer to the what of what is to come. But I do know the how of waiting safely for it. And I know that it is worthy of hopefulness.