A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …
Well, not that long ago, and not that far away, secondary school students were striking against Climate Change. National had stepped up their election campaign since 19 October 2017 and were in full-flight electioneering. Slightly farther afield, Boris Brexited over backwards, the Sherriff from Mar-a-Lago assassinated a local hero in Iraq and almost started WWIII, the trade war between two super powers was escalating, and there were the Primaries in the US that got many heated under the collar. To name just a few things that hogged the limelight.
Then, all of a sudden, a few people got sick in China. Then a few died, quite a few, and it spread, quickly. Next thing we knew was Doom’s Day scenarios based on comparisons with the Spanish Flu, the deadliest epidemic in recent human history.
Thanks to the internet, we can now watch the stat counters every moment keeping a tally and an eye on the number of new cases and deaths anywhere in the world. Obviously, we tend to focus on the worst cases or countries. The daily updates by Ashley and Jacinda have become compulsory viewing and we obsessively scour the media websites for updates, information, and answers, even answers to questions that nobody knows the answer to notwithstanding their PhD.
Our world, or ‘bubble’ as it is now known, has shrunk heaps. We worry about toilet paper. We worry about our finances and how we will pay the bills. We worry about our jobs. We worry about the bottom rungs of and on Maslow’s ladder of needs. Some of us worry about our health too. Some of us can work from home but it feels a little (more) pointless, at least to me it does.
It is too early for me to ponder the purpose of my professional life, let alone life in its totality – reductionism rules. However, a huge part of what sparks joy in my life is the clutter of social interactions through work and less so, but still important, through going out for groceries or even a meal, once every blue moon – my pub days are merely a twinkle in my foggy distant memory.
The projected period of four weeks is about as long as a long holiday, but this is not a holiday, really. During a real holiday, you tend to reset, recharge, and recuperate. And then you jump straight back into the rat race and daily rut and quickly forget the good times of leisurely living the life of Riley – it is wiping your memory like ketamine.
So, when this passes, as it will, and we go back to Alert Level 1 (or zero?), will we come back to Earth with a sickening thud? I guess it depends on how bad things may get. In times of crisis, and facing your mortality by staring Death in the eyes (AKA memento mori) certainly is a momentous crisis, many people make a major mental shift. And often this shift is lasting and permanent, almost life changing.
Perhaps the even bigger question is whether we will make a collective mental shift. Time will tell and again it will depend on how bad things get. If this microscopic virus – a slight misnomer, because it cannot be seen with ordinary light microscopes – is not enough of a reason to change our ways then we can wait for the next crisis of global proportions. We won’t have to wait long as we can all look forward to Climate Change slowly but surely altering all life on this planet – plenty of stats to keep staring at if you wish. With a bit of luck, it will be life, but not as we know it.
Maybe now is a good time to start pondering because it is the only moment that is right here, right now …