It is hard to believe we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the beginning of what has since become our new reality.
It’s not just the length of time that has passed as we have navigated various lockdowns with brief interludes of freer times on occasion that I find hard to believe.
What I find more difficult to wrap my heart around is that so much of our hope for this event being a catalyst for wider social change has slowly dwindled and been replaced by a desire for things to just return to how they were previously; to get back at it, get over this, and put it behind us.
This narrative will not serve us.
This last year has been exceptionally difficult for many people. Most tragically, life been lost unnecessarily. Frontline workers have been forced to risk their health and work insanely hard to provide essential and urgent care and services. Meanwhile, those employed in the hospitality sector, retail sector, and other decimated sectors, along with many who are self-employed, have lost their livelihoods and faced untold stress with the ever-changing guidelines, re-opening dates, and capacity rules they have adapted to.
It is not surprising that hope has dwindled and been replaced by resentment and fatigue. Indeed, it is unlikely there would have been such a strong sense of hope this time last year had we known we would still find ourselves in lockdown a full 12 months later.
However, as we build for the future, there are elements of the first-lockdown sentiment that we must rekindle and remember to set ourselves up for a brighter future ahead.
If there is one thing that has been made resolutely clear over this last year, it is that the systems which we have relied on are not resilient.
They could not withstand the stress of the pandemic which arrived (following years of forewarning), nor will they be fit-for-purpose for the climate change challenges that lie ahead.
Our collective values system has been shaken and called into question, and we were this time last year asking ourselves if in fact more time at home, more time in nature, more cooking, more gardening, more quality time with family and friends was not a richer reality.
What we’re in right now is not reflective of what a slower-living reality could look like. We have been worn thin, and lost our spirit through successive lockdowns, and people are suffering.
However, as we move towards the light at the end of the tunnel as vaccinations are rolled out, sitting tight through what will hopefully be the lockdown to end all lockdowns, might we use this time productively to get really clear on the type of future reality we DO want to enter into when we can again gather, and socialise as we could previously?
It has become a marathon, which has tested our endurance much more significantly that the initial lockdown 1 sprint did, but let us not waste all we have learned in the process. Let us not allow ourselves to be numb, and passive, and plod straight back onto the path that led to this endurance test in the first place.
There are so many more routes and life paths available to us than the one we were on pre-Covid, and the oppressive one we are currently stuck on.
What if we could indeed create the types of societies and communities we began to dream of last March when we remembered what it feels like to rally together for the sake of a greater good; to slow down, consume less, and focus on what really matters?
The greater societal change required for us to build the necessary resilience for what lies ahead will need all of our participation. If we think that government can revolutionise our systems, realities and future wellbeing without our help, we can think again.
The starting point for this revolution will begin within each of us, as all lasting, sustainable and healthy change must.
This last leg of the marathon will be a tough one. We are all tired, fed up and frustrated at this stage. But it is also the perfect opportunity for us to reconnect with those visions of our future ideal, and to begin to take actions that move us towards them.
How has this pandemic changed your priorities in life? Are you consciously embedding and acting on these new priorities? What will your life look like when you and we have created our dream reality and the new systems to support it?
We have SO much to look forward to if we proactively assume responsibility for each little change we can make.
Start with clarity of vision, and then move towards it step by step.