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Before and after: the covid transformations we didn’t know we needed

Dear Reader,

We have found ourselves at this messy juncture, caught between hope and despair. Yet we grin through the grim circumstances, sing past the somberness, and continue to push on.

It’s a strange paradox, this moment: it is both healing and hurting. Time has misplaced the respite quality that it had back in the Spring. We’ve been so far away from clarity for so long that our emotional journeys seem to have grown tired. But remember that much like the moment we live in, these journeys won’t have a straight-forward path.

Maybe this time has provided you with the space that you needed to heal. Maybe it has been a period in which you have made peace with yourself, or maybe it hasn’t. Perhaps it’s helpful to shape yourself more by your hope than your hurt at this point in time. When you have hope, you have everything. Right now, however, you may be handling episodic storms with diminished resources. Amusement and good humour were used up in April’s Zoom calls, creativity and zen have been dissolved in May’s burnt bakes. In time these resources will regenerate if you help them and one day we can sail smoothly again.

Carrying yourself has not been easy on your back; please allow yourself to lay down and rest for a while. Think about the individual battles that you’ve fought while the world has been at war. Like all battles, these too will end, and your personal armistice will come someday. Think about all of the histories and habits you’ve confronted and all the chaos that you have registered.

You feel unmoored, and so do I. Perhaps we share that unshakeable hunch that our exciting lives have gone missing and that some passionless existence has offered itself as a replacement. Joy hasn’t gone, it has just taken on the calmer shape of solitude. Of course, we find ourselves longing for contact and physical touch. But moments of closeness will come again soon. And when they do come, they’ll take on a new significance. It’s an often-cited truism that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I don’t think it’s entirely true. You appreciated your individual somethings when you had them, you just miss them more now.

Remember that as the world has shifted, you have done the same. Days, weeks, months have passed, and through each moment, you have become more and more like bamboo: fragile in appearance but flexible and sturdy at your roots. It is often forgotten that rubbish is used for the compost that allows plants to grow. Many beautiful things are built on ruins, think of Rome.

We used to spend so long entertaining possibilities, I wonder why. It only meant that we stopped enjoying what is in front of us: love, peace, tranquillity. Perhaps when this all passes, things will return to the normal before this normal. I do not think they will. We seldom realised that everything was so fragile, that nothing remains in the form that we first find it in. We always assumed the robustness of the things, so we began to overlook them rather than look at them. And that was a time in which plugging away at loveless pursuits was a taken for granted common sense. We care more now.

Keep at it, be kind and true to yourself and the rest will follow.

All the best,

L

Image: Spencer Selover via Pexels

Editor’s note: This article may show differences from the print edition.