Finding meaning in these strange times

It was a hard experience being diagnosed with a terminal, aggressive cancer almost 2 years ago. I didn’t know which way to turn. My wife Jana and I literally thought my time was up. After the initial shock we did manage to pull ourselves together and find a way forward which has worked until now. Long may it continue.

Life was difficult enough with this dangling over my head trying to get on with my life. However, little did I know that 21 months later we would be finding ourselves facing yet another threat. This time not just to my life but the whole of humanity! It is hard to grasp the enormity of the challenge now facing us with the pandemic.

As always there is only one way forward and Jana and I now need to navigate this journey to find a solution we can live with. What I do know is that I do not want this coronavirus to get myself or my wife and my PA’s. Our life must go on, so we decided to make the most of this and do what we feel is best and safest.

I decided 3 weeks before the official Government lockdown in March to already self-isolate along with my wife and PAs as far as this was possible. I was not prepared to take the chance and wait for the government to act.

We then decided to plan a robust approach in trying to keep us as safe as possible in our isolation. We placed notices on all our doors explaining I was a person “at risk” and visitors were not allowed entry and had to leave parcels outside. We also started a rigorous hand washing regime along with regular cleaning of surfaces, sinks, doors and cupboard handles, switches and anything else my wife and PAs would touch.

Please note I used the phrase “at risk” and not the word the government, media and others use called “vulnerable”. I hate this word and it is not in my vocabulary because it is derogatory, paternalistic and an insult to my humanity. Unfortunately, this word has now become common usage which makes it more difficult to correct.

What is interesting in the approach we took for Covid-19 is the same as the one we took facing the threat of the cancer. These are, “don’t panic”, put fear in its place and not allow it to take over, avoid stress, stay positive, remain vigilant, have a good quality of life and be aware. These will work wonders if one can manage to maintain them.

Another method I used which I learnt in my early 20s is that of meditation. In other words, deep relaxation breathing as this can help calm one down as well as providing clarity of thought. It can also be very uplifting which is very helpful in a time of doom and gloom! It is also known to be helpful for one’s health, blood pressure and de-stressing oneself. A perfect remedy when in isolation to keep control of one’s thoughts from wondering into negativity.

Meditation can also bring one peace which is very helpful at the time of disharmony and confusion caused by Covid-19. We are also fighting a war against Covid-19 which is killing our fellow human beings mercilessly, so inner peace can keep things in perspective. I am not necessarily just thinking of sitting and meditating but integrating this relaxation breathing into one’s life.

My other saviour is my wife as we share life together. We compare our experience of what is going on in trying to understand what is happening. We can also make each other smile and laugh and this is important. Sometimes it can be so intense that it will bring tears to our eyes. Then we know it has been worth it. We cannot do without fun. We are thankful to have each other during such difficult and surreal times.

It is also inspiring witnessing how localism has come to the front with the emergence of many self-help groups and mutual groups forming to help find solutions for local communities without the government’s help. This is co-production happening in action.

Lastly, as it is always an integral part of my everyday life is music. This is in my blood and my household and is not the same without it. It is exhilarating and mood enhancing hearing it in the background. I love all kinds of music rock, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, world music, folk and classical. My taste is very eclectic and very much reflects my personality. I will not tell you what singers and songwriters, composers or musicians I admire but will finish this blog and allow you to think and decide what they are?

I finish in the hope of what I have written might well resonate and help you find meaning in these very strange times. The future will never be the same again but what is clear is that we must move forward and not go back to the past.


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