After a 100 and something days I’m back in the office. Masked. With the outside doors of my study wide open. It feels a little strange. A little tentative. And more than a little good.
I dropped into my café at 7 and that didn’t feel so good. The spacing between people, the absence of masks when not sipping, was not conducive to the free roaming of thoughts. I got my regular caffeine fix and left.
When I walked past our local pub on the corner the other night, you’d think that the unchecked community transmission of the Covid virus wasn’t a thing at all. No masks or spacing in there. Meet, drink, and be merry.
Maybe pub owners don’t feel the same sense of community responsibility that I do. That is a responsibility to keep people safe. Especially vulnerable people.
Or maybe they do. Maybe they expect the vulnerable to stay away. Maybe ‘safety’ for some means breaking the isolation, and letting the merriment of being together work its magic.
Or maybe they listen to the messaging that suits. The one that says not many people are dying. So why not eat, drink, and keep hospitality businesses in business? And pray, as in cross their fingers, that no super-spreader event gets sheeted back to their pub.
I feel for those who want to be together, and those who can’t. I empathize with those whose livelihood is suffering. I feel too for those who are very nervous about the increased contact that those in our city have been able to have in the last week. Our capacity to cope with a rise in hospital admissions is very limited. These are tentative times.
Yet, for many these are also good times. Most of us are alive. Most of us have a roof over our heads, food to eat and share, and someone to be in regular contact with. We have places where we can go for help when we are sick or in need. Many of us have an income source, which though suffering a bit in these times, still remains intact. And expenditure has decreased. Many of us have walked a bit more. A lot more. 10,000 steps a day is nothing. The air has had a bit of a reprieve from the fumes we spew. The birds seem more plentiful, and more prolific. The city harbour seems a little cleaner.
There is also a lot of goodness about. Despite what you read or hear. There’s a great quote from Richard Curtis who said, “If you make a film about a man kidnapping a woman and chaining her to a radiator for five years – something that has happened probably only once in history – it’s called searingly realistic analysis of society. If I make a film like Love Actually – which is about people falling in love, and there are about a million people falling in love in Britain today, it is called a sentimental presentation of an unrealistic world.”
Media has a penchant for serving up the extraordinary, especially the extraordinarily bad, in such a way to make us think that bad is normal. Similarly with reporting on government. I remember a longtime Member of Parliament once told me that there is a lot of finding common ground in parliamentary discussions. Indeed, he said, we agree on about 90% of what is before the House. Yet the media, and MPs themselves, want to make the 10% of difference to be more like 90%.
As good is normal and bad abnormal, so agreement is normal and disagreement abnormal. But we have difficulty believing it. And what we believe about such things is important.
I see a lot of good, a lot of love, a lot of kindness about. More than the other not good stuff. And I see a lot of copying others who do goodness, love, and kindness. Lots of it. So much so that it’s usual, mundane, and not considered news. In all sorts of little ways, goodness infuses our lives. Much more than the other stuff.
I believe it, I experience it, and I try to replicate it.
Speaking of Richard Curtis (born in NZ) and the movie he wrote, Love Actually, here’s a quote to conclude: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”