So yes, we need to be very careful. But it's hard, isn't it? Many people are out of work and are living in a very uncertain and precarious position. It's not just the risks associated with the virus that are affecting them; it's their livelihood that's at risk too. The danger is that we become not only anxious, but confused and depressed as well, so I thought that maybe this week I could focus on some of the positive aspects that I've seen coming out of this very strange time, because there are indeed some very good things happening.
|Spring is here, a natural upside|
On a local level, I've noticed people are being kinder and more tolerant to each other in all sorts of ways. It's inevitable that we have to cancel appointments and plans, but the level of acceptance about having to do this is really heartwarming. Just as an instance, I'd asked a tree surgeon to come and prune our tree at the crumbly cottage, where we are now self isolating. Bearing in mind I initially made the enquiry in January, it's taken a long time to organise, but first we had the terrible march of Ciara, Dennis and Ellen across the country, which meant he was otherwise occupied with more urgent pruning. Then the poor man sprained his ankle, so he couldn't come when he was going to, and now we have Corona.
So when he asked if he could come next week, I baulked. I'm really not ready to have anyone here yet and even though there's no real reason why he shouldn't, I asked for some leeway. I explained about being nervous of contact at the moment; Koos is in the high risk category and I have allergies that affect my airways. Luckily, he was totally understanding, which relieved me no end. There've been other instances of this too, each of which has given me such reassurance in cases where frustration and annoyance might have been the usual response.
Then there's the notices I see around the supermarkets: the call for us all to work together and keep this thing contained. 'Samen kunnen we het doen' (Together we can do it). I know it's just a little thing, but I find it lifts my spirits. We're all in the same boat, aren't we? On the other hand, you'd all chuckle if you could see me skulking round the aisles trying to avoid other shoppers. When I see anyone coming my way, I freeze, backtrack and duck into the next aisle, only to find I have to do it again because someone is browsing the shelves there too. Shopping has become quite an adventure. I can just imagine the security bods watching their screens and saying: "Aha, sit down, lads. Weekly entertainment time. Here's that old bat again again," and having a good chortle at my antics.
Apart from that, there are the work initiatives, which are actually quite exciting. It's been a big change to switch all my teaching to an online environment, and there will be more challenges to come. This morning, I had a virtual 'meeting' with my two daughters to see how to conduct an online class in real time. For them, of course, it's as easy as breathing, but for me (old traditionalist that I am) it's a big deal, but they made me laugh and showed me that it doesn't really need to be alarming. When I heard that in my daughter's last online class, one of her students was sitting in bed, while another had his little boy crawling all over him, I realised it would probably be a lot of fun. As for our management at the university, they are all being incredibly supportive of these changes.
Then there's the morale boosting on a more national level. One morning last week, all the radio stations across the country played 'You'll never walk alone' at the same time, and there have been evenings where people in the cities have applauded the medical and essential services the way they've done elsewhere in Europe. It's been very moving and a powerful way of giving a sense of togetherness through the need to be apart.
|More signs of spring, although this is last year's a bit later|
Individually, none of these things is huge, but they're all signs of a growing level of patience and tolerance among people, which can only be positive. Of course, you'll always get the bozos who think none of this applies to them, and the people who refuse to keep a distance from you in the shops, but I think that overall, the response has been rewarding and the general level of warmth and good cheer is increasing.
Add to that is the fact that on our highways, the speed limit has been reduced to 100kms per hour everywhere between 06:00 and 19:00, then even the roads feel calm and relaxed. The authorities sneaked that in without a whisper during the early weeks of this crisis, but I really like it, so that can't be bad either, can it? Oh and of course, Spring is here, which is a wonderful upside in itself as we are having some gorgeous sunshine filled days.
Keep well, iedereen, stay home and stay safe.