“I’ve forgotten my mask but this shopping bag is made from linen so it should work fine,” said an elderly lady as she entered a small shop. The wide smile on my face was hidden by my mask. Yes, I have found that face masks have more than one purpose, we can also hide behind them. “No, no, you’ve got to wear a face mask,” screamed the confused shop assistant as the lady started to tie the shopping bag around her face. “But it’s the same as a mask, it’s made of linen, it’s exactly the same,” pleaded the shopper now with a bag covering almost all of her face. I had this vision of her cutting two eye holes in the bag and then wearing it like a member of the KKK. And then from the other side of the shop came the voice of reason, “If your bag is the same as a face mask try carrying your shopping home with a face mask.” Face masks in the queue held back whispered laughs. The lady left.
When it all started, blimey it seems like years ago, the idea of being locked in my home without human contact seemed worse than getting the virus. But humans are adaptable, no, extremely adaptable. Just ask someone who has spent time in hospital. At first the very thought of hospital food makes your stomach tighten, but after a few days it is more than palatable. And I have, over the weeks and months that followed, immersed myself into the new social distancing norm. Somewhere along the way I have morphed into Robinson Crusoe!
I already had my father’s genes of being a home-loving, nest building man, and Covid-19 has given me the perfect excuse to amplify my “stay at home” nature. Like Crusoe’s shipwreck, sheltering on a deserted island during a pandemic interrupts long-established habits and the rhythms of life. And as Crusoe finds deep within himself an ingenuity he didn’t even know he possessed, lockdown can open up new ways of living and creating. Even simple things such as cooking, reading, writing and general human interaction may turn out to have more to offer than we first knew. Just flick through social media and you’ll gaze upon many hidden talents. I am not going to lie, this year off (for it will last a year), has been a breath of fresh air.
Yes, it has been financially tight, but it has been for everyone. And as we are all in the same boat (sorry for the pun), well sinking boat like Mr. Crusoe, it has made it psychologically easier. A pandemic can seem like the end, but it can also serve as a beginning. Or as Daniel Defoe wrote in Robinson Crusoe, “It is never too late to be wise.” And that is the key factor. What will we all learn? How will we all react when this finishes? Simply going back to the way we did things before wouldn’t be a waste it would be a crime. Like I said human beings are adaptable, is there any better time to adapt than after this?
This period has given us all a time to reflect. To see the error of our ways. Only a moron wouldn’t learn and change. We have all seen that we can live with less. Less of everything. Just as the shipwrecked Crusoe is reborn, so trying times can clarify for us the true bounties of our lives. Before we were saying “there has to be another way of doing this, a better way.” Now, as clear as the noses on our faces, we can see that there is another way. That putting all your eggs into one basket means certain doom.
“Stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results," said the genius Albert Einstein. If we just go back to the way it was before and expect a bright new future the we are indeed stupid. We are all stuck on this Covid-19 island for a few months more, whether we like it or not, so let’s use the time wisely. Plan now for a different future and above all adapt. Of course I’ll leave the last word to Mr. Crusoe, “Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself.”