How well I remember when, before the first lockdown – yes, that was almost a year ago – there was a call for inner reflection. To find oneself, to make use of time (whatever it means to “make use of time”-that might be worth another thought). To go into oneself, to let calm return during the (first) lockdown. Use the time of the crisis for yourself and your family.
Yes, I thought to myself at the time: that’s actually a good thing. Shift down a gear. Take a deep breath. That would be, no: that IS good!
Now, almost a year later, I ask myself: where has the time gone? For me personally, there is no trace of deceleration. And I could have controlled it myself, to some extent. But I didn’t. Instead, I continued to work as normal. Also because I was and am happy to be able to do so. How many people are on short-time work or even unemployed and would be happy to be able to work? Without wanting to think or talk about such luxuries as “downshifting” or “coming round”. Because that’s what coming down and switching back is today: luxury.
Luxuries that I didn’t afford myself last year either.
Instead, I realise that it’s already February again and there are only 11 months left in the year. But hey, with optimist glasses the year still has more than 330 days 😉
Nevertheless, it makes me think. The fact that I didn’t switch down again. But that the first Covid19 year was a year for me like any other.
Just like the thoughts of change give me pause for thought. Yes, I believe that we are in a state of change. But is it Covid19-related? No, I don’t think so. Has Covid19 accelerated it? It might have. We humans have always been subject to change. Sometimes it has been obvious and severe, sometimes it has been concentrated in individuals or groups. But change always has been and always will be.
Yes, Covid19 has made me question one or two of my habits. In that sense, Covid19 has also changed me.
And Covid19 or the political measures to combat this pandemic have left their mark on our society and changed us as a society. Changed our everyday life; and our behaviour. At least that of many. Even today, there are still people who wish for nothing more than to finally be able to go on a cruise again, whereas many others are coming to terms more and more with their limited radius of action.
We had to leave many people alone this year.
We were not allowed to turn to each other as a society, as people among people, the way we, at least the generations after 1945, were used to: carefree and light-hearted.
And with that, I think Covid19 also changed our thinking. I, at least, appreciate and miss today what I no longer have since Covid19.
What I ask myself is: which of all these changes in our thinking and actions would also have happened if they had not been imposed by political decrees? To what extent would man’s inherent inertia have prevailed? I fear many of the changes, especially in our habits, would not have come without decrees. And I fear many changes are not yet old enough, adult enough, to be permanent.
So I fear our habit of wanting to travel will catch up with us again after Covid19 – as if the positive effects for or against climate change had not existed. And no, I’m not just talking about private travel here. Of those, perhaps the least. Personally, I don’t miss business trips at all any more. In the beginning, I still missed them, I took the first opportunity after the lockdown to visit clients again. But now, almost a year after the first lockdown, I have the feeling that many of my clients have also accepted that I can do without business trips, even without sitting face-to-face with them.
So the year has brought many changes without me noticing them as such at this moment. Perhaps because they have already become so normal.
But this does not change the fact that it is already February and time is racing. Although it is running just as fast as yesterday. Or last year. Or last millennium. I should better have written: it’s racing for me. Because I can’t use it the way I would like to. No: because I can’t do everything I would like to do in the time allotted to me. Helplessness. Perhaps also powerlessness. That is, I think, what sums up my feeling today. Helplessness in the face of all the things that could be done, or even should be done, and yet are not. No, “you can do it all” is not really helpful here. You can certainly do a lot of things, and you can do even more the more you set yourself the task of wanting to do and being able to do. But everything?
I don’t lack the humility to recognise that I have to shape my life with limited means, including a limited lifetime. On the contrary. Sometimes I tend to indulge in this humility. Yet this humility is countered by another feeling that I cannot fully transform: Helplessness.