Every day is a learning day, I have always believed. From both good and bad experiences we can take something that will help us in the future. But at the age of 64 I never thought that I would see many of the things I have this year. A virus bringing the world to it’s knees, surely only in a book or a crazy film? The NHS close to collapse, with our country’s economy not far behind. Millions of jobs lost, and meeting up with friends a dim and distant memory. Central London looking like a ghost town. The poverty gap increasing around the world, as the virus seems to discriminate. Whilst digital technology becomes vital to the way we work and learn.
What has all of this meant to me? As I am receiving the privilege of getting old, my health is struggling to keep up. ‘Late effects’ starting to come into play, making my quality of life more difficult. But that is my trade-off for 13 years of additional life! Being classed as vulnerable in the current crisis does nothing for my feeling of wellbeing! If I needed any reminder to make every day count, here it is. But my mental resilience is holding up, which is really key for me.
Having been used to unreliable health and frequent hospital visits, I have been able to live my life, but constantly interrupted. During Covid times it has been much the same! Being initially a prisoner of cancer and it’s treatment, now trying to also stay out of trouble with the virus too. The psychological impact of living life in this way has been very understated for people affected by cancer. But I can already see the challenges for EVERYBODY, now starting to take effect.
From a selfish perspective, my work is growing and I have no worries about employment or career path. Being self-employed for many years has prepared me well for difficult times. In fact these times are producing opportunities I couldn’t previously imagine. So how effectively I am using my time is becoming even more critical.
My strengths are when communicating. I love meeting new people, and have had to adapt from face to face in the same room, to Zoom calls, a very different skill! Better than nothing of course, but hopefully not a permanent replacement. We have seen the real value of others in our lives, and experienced sacrifice, unable to see our friends and even our own family on a regular basis. What I have been delighted to see though, is a real understanding of who the key workers are in our lives.
People that inevitably we have taken for granted, before the virus. Naturally we valued our healthcare workers, but what about supermarket staff? Dustmen, postmen, delivery drivers, builders and tradesmen. All taking huge risks to keep our lives as normal as possible. Of course I shouldn’t forget the team at Amazon too, without who we would all be lost!! These times have shown us what is really important in our lives, and what is just garnish.
Since cancer entered my life in 2007 I have really understood the value of my time. Not in a selfish way but always trying to add value whenever I can. The difficult task is to balance personal and family time, with work. A common problem for many, but I have no excuse, as the choices are all mine. One thing I do know for certain is that you will rarely have time, health, and money, at the same time. Money generally comes at the cost of the other two. I wonder whether the situation we find ourselves in now, will help people understand what is really important to them. Frequently, it is the simple things that bring us most joy!
In most sectors, Covid has accelerated change that had already started. Collapse of retailers and large chain restaurants. Mass travel to and from an office, producing more flexible working. NHS using technology more frequently to enable them to be more efficient. Red tape being stripped away to help things move more quickly. World medical collaboration to find an effective defence against the virus. These signs fill me with hope not despair.
As a society we are paying a heavy price, and it will take many years, if ever to get back to ‘normal.’ But we must learn from this. Change will be happening quicker now, and we must be able to adapt faster than before. I believe local communities will be more important to us than ever, if we are spending more time at home. This will change the landscape for many sectors. What will our major cities look like in years to come?
One thing that has impressed me during these challenging times is how quick communities have been to see a need and react to it. Foodbanks and small charitable organisations, working with little funding but helping in their locality. Large organisation red tape not holding them back from creating very impactful services. I think this is how we must work in the future. Seeing opportunities and taking them quickly. A massive challenge for large corporate structures.
Finally I would like to thank everyone for the incredible support during this difficult year! Lets hope that 2021 is an improvement. As always these are my personal experiences and opinions. Please feel free to share your own below. Stay safe!!