19 April 2020
We’re all busy asking when life will go back to normal. I’ve been thinking about this too and have concluded it’s the wrong question. Lacking access to time travel, I’ve never managed to return to a previous moment in my life. It may be better to ask how we can reshape our world today. Could we build something better?
The ancient Greeks said ‘everything flows’ (Pantha Rhei). Change is happening all around us. And changes can be positive, negative or uncertain. This principle is central to psychotherapy approaches such as dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), which assert that change is the only constant. Whether it is after a bereavement, a divorce, retirement, being fired or having kids - we often have to accept change before we can move on with life.
I have been focusing on some of the positive impacts of Covid-19, as strange as it seems to think of a deadly virus in that way! I’m reflecting on the welcome effect the shut-down may be having on the environment. Could we look back on this time as a reprieve from the climate emergency that was dominating the headlines only a few months ago?
What kind of opportunities will materialise following the closure of our schools and universities? Perhaps it could pave the way to more open and universal distance learning environment. Working for home and working remotely are quickly becoming the new normal. That is unsettling in some ways, but liberating in others. Will we soon be able to work from anywhere we choose?
And what about how we treat others? The paradox of this situation is that it seems to be bringing us together in surprising ways. Whether through volunteering, or through ‘clap for our carers’, or in my case the musician neighbour who treated the street to a live concert this afternoon…
Yes, there are so many signs that we could be becoming more ‘philanthropic’, another word of Greek origin for someone who, etymologically speaking, ‘loves humans’. It is inspirational to see the selfless things so many people are doing to help fellow citizens.
This is not intended in any way to diminish the terrible and sometimes shattering losses so many people are experiencing or to deny the anxiety we all feel at the sheer scale of the changes. But we may find it easier to cope if we stop asking when we can go back to normal, and start imagining a better future instead.
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov, Pexels