After Covid-19, chop wood, carry water…

Ella Parkin, 7, enjoys a little safe social togetherness with friend Phoebe at Radloff Park.

I think we’re all familiar with the concept of putting our own air-masks on first, before attempting to help those around us, in the case of emergency.

Because despite the best intentions in the world, the law of unintended consequences will always emerge.

So… as we face the “new order” of social distancing, or self-imposed isolation, increased handwashing, endeavouring not to touch surfaces or our faces, and resorting to technology instead of physical proximity to keep in touch with friends, relatives and colleagues… we need to remember, above all, to capacitate ourselves to be of safe service, in this time of great need and greater unknowns.

The extraordinary acceleration in information flow, from all the social media platforms and newsfeeds, contains a thread of universal love, and I’ve observed a change in tone, a deepening awareness, of our shared and common humanity.

Words of encouragement and upliftment, pointers for how to manage health, home and hearth (and I for one am very grateful not to have little ones running about in need of instruction, education, entertainment and excercise – although there are great tips doing the rounds to help parents and caregivers in those roles during this time of enforced containment).

Life goes on, and this is, ultimately, a variation on a universal theme… of life and death, of disease and health, of bright times and darker episodes, reflecting the journey and history (and future) of humankind.

And speaking of… now, if ever, is the time for us to rise to that description, “humankind”… and exemplify the notion of kindness, courtesy, consideration, compassion, service, and personal and social responsibility.

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, whose compelling work Man’s Search for Meaning, written after his experience interred as a prisoner in the concentration camps in World War II, reminds us that “…between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.

We have the capacity to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances, and therein reshape our perspective.

He adds: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

We may feel powerless, transfixed in the face of inexorable tide that is Covid-19, as the rise in cases continuesexponentially throughout the planet.

But we’re not. Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water… after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, as the saying goes.

We carry on, we adapt, we improvise, we grow, expand, and transform, where it is required. The dust will settle eventually, and we’ll be able to hug each other again, and gather socially, and the fear will recede, and the subject on our lips will eventually change to something else.

I hope it will be about love, and harmony, and the sharing of resources, and the promotion of good health, better habits, lighter footprints on mother earth, and greater cohesion within countries.

If ever, now is the time to Imagine, as John Lennon sang, “… a brotherhood of man… and the world will be as one”. From your lips to God’s ears.

Carolyn Frost: Editor