OTHER people’s stories can be powerful.
They can stir you to a sudden realisation about yourself.
This happened to me recently when I read an interview with an old man in Dublin who was cocooning all alone.
He was desperately lonely and wishing away the days until he could be out among the people once more.
I felt for him and realised that I had been feeling the exact same way.
In fact, I suddenly understood that that very way of thinking was the cause of the foul humour I had been in ever since this lockdown began.
That wasn’t all I understood from reading his story.
I also came to the creeping realisation that such waiting was pointless. There might never be an end to this time. In fact, we might only be at the beginning.
In some ways, this time reminds me of the months after I had my son.
All I wanted at that time was for my life to return to normal. I spent months trying to re-establish the life I led before he was born only to feel frantic with frustration when I failed to achieve it.
It took me a long, long time to understand that everything in my life had changed because I had brought a baby into it.
That baby was now at the centre of my life and from now on, I had to fit everything and everybody else around him.
My life had to take a whole new shape and I needed time to figure out what that shape would be.
I feel the same thing is happening to me now.
This coronavirus and the risks it poses have changed the way we live for the foreseeable future, perhaps forever.
Rather than resisting this fact, I am trying to accept it.
Instead of pining for the things I cannot do and the people I cannot see, I am doing my best to enjoy the life I have now, at this moment in time.
I don’t want to wish the coming months away. The long, bright days of summer are on their way, and I want to find joy in them, not waste them away waiting for better days that may never come.
I know that this may be much easier for me than it is for many other people.
I don’t live by myself so there’s no chance that I will get lonely (I have the exact opposite problem in that I rarely get even a moment to myself – my son even follows me into the bathroom!).
I have a nice house by the sea with a beach and a hillside to explore. There isn’t a day that goes by without me giving thanks for such privileges.
Yet this does not mean that I don’t miss my family and friends.
It does not mean that I don’t long for the days when I can be with people in a carefree way, without everyone having to wear face masks and gloves, without everyone worrying that they, or someone they love, will fall ill and die.
This time is difficult for us all. One of the most difficult things about it is that we do not know when, or even if, it will end.
Just as my life was turned topsy-turvy when my son was born, the coronavirus has upended all of our lives.
Slowly, we will put everything back together in a new way and our lives will ultimately take a different shape as a result.
Who knows what that shape will be? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I have decided to take a new approach. I am trying to live in this moment and to appreciate the life I have now.
Take a look out the window and you’ll see spring blossoms falling from the trees and swallows busily feeding their young.
There’s a relentlessness to the change in the seasons. It’s clear that the natural world’s cycle of life goes on, despite our lives seeming to be at a standstill.
Mother nature has an important lesson for us all.
We have only one life and it is there to be lived.
Who knows how many more summers we have ahead of us?
Let’s not waste any time.