Tuesday, July 07, 2020

So it would seem that after what feels like an eternity, we are finally moving out of lockdown. Not everyone is agreed on the timing of certain restriction easing measures, but regardless, we are taking our first baby steps into what some hope will be a return to normal life. Only it isn’t really normal, is it? It’s a long way from what we were used to pre pandemic. Some of our old ways of living have been yanked from under us unceremoniously and it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. The virus hasn’t gone away and the concern is very much that some of us are a tad complacent about it now. We mustn’t drop our guard.

I’ve been asking myself what have I learned during these last few months, if anything?  For starters, I’ve become all too aware how we, in general, as a society pay so little attention to cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in public. My older sister was a nurse and recently she commented that she has been very diligent in terms of hand washing and using hand sanitisers for years. Goes with the training I guess. I can remember many occasions witnessing guys sauntering out of pub bathrooms without a notion of washing their hands. And how many of us on the way home from a match, when there had to be a quick stop on a country road to water a bush, had any sanitiser in our pockets? I remember days driving from Thurles or Cork when you’d see a bus stopped and a line of men doing the necessary. I’d put money on it that not one of them carried a wet wipe or disinfectant. Hopefully, that behaviour will be a relic of history and these days we go about prepared.

I’ve also come to believe that those of us with simpler, less complicated lives are far more able to handle a ‘crisis’. If you weren’t up to your eyes in all kinds of activities or a big party animal then you didn’t have as much to miss. We must also give a thought to those having affairs when the lockdown struck. Unless they were living within 2km of you it must have been a bit tricky.

Those who make sport their religion had to have been climbing the walls. Now I love sport but it’s certainly not an all consuming passion. As long as Liverpool got to complete the season and bag the title, I was happy. The hurling season has been salvaged but what has replaced it has raised a few eyebrows; an All-Ireland final in December! I tend to agree with Michael Lyster, give it a break and start afresh next year. It will be really tough on families with the expense of Christmas trying to take everyone to matches on a dark winter’s Sunday in the run up.

Same for music. No concerts. I had been really looking forward to seeing Horslips in Waterford but you know what, there’ll be another day and, thankfully, there was no ban on listening to music. I’m never far from a few tunes at the best of times.

Over the unpleasantness, I also realised how generous people can be, particularly in Waterford. There were so many volunteers rallying around and helping elderly and disadvantaged neighbours. Very heart warming. Sadly, I could see a lot of fear in people too. Just walking past people in the street on my way to work, it was palpable at times. Heads down, no nod or greeting and clearly, a lot on their minds. On the flip side though, I have to say, it was lovely to get the odd hearty hello from total strangers, much more than under normal circumstances.

I’m not at all religious nor do I have any denominational leanings or labels, but I do have a strong personal faith. That has helped me enormously and I haven’t had any anxiety. Positive thinking is all well and good but it only gets you so far. God tends to be relegated to a back seat role these days for many, but I’m sticking with him in my own way. He’s taken good care of me so far and at 55, I feel more sure now than I did 30 years ago of his presence and goodness. I’ve ignored him several times but I’d be a fool not to see how he’s kept me going. Some call it intuition or a ‘gut feeling’, but I just know I have a far better understanding of what to do and more importantly sometimes what not to do in all kinds of “crises”.

Times being as they are, I hear folk talk about security like there ever really was such a thing. Lately, it’s painfully obvious how circumstances can change in a heartbeat.

Is my job secure? Well, depending on the sector you work in, maybe it isn’t but who knows what the future holds? I’ve been here before though, there have been other recessions and I’ve never yet come up against a dead end. Even good old radio used to appear so rock solid and secure as houses. Not any more. Now you just have to be flexible. Things I thought and hoped would work out didn’t, but it’s never the end of the road. Sometimes getting what you want at the wrong time is the worst thing for you. What’s that they say? Be careful what you wish for. As the late Steve Jobs said, it’s only afterwards you can look back and join the dots of your life.

We all go through hard times but on reflection, it can often be the making of us. I get challenged from time to time too but I don’t worry about it. If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s to not fall into the trap of thinking we’re so clever, we can figure everything out for ourselves. I don’t have it all sussed and probably never will, however, I’ve decided best to keep on keepin’ on and if I’ve totally screwed up and taken the wrong road, you know what, am I any worse off than anyone else come the final whistle?

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