I remember six years ago last month, for days and nights on end, tubed-up and staring at the ceiling of an isolation room in HDU, wondering if the suspended tiles there would move sufficiently to allow my soul through, just as they surely had let many before me. And when all you can focus on is a matrix of plastic tiles in a room normally reserved for those on the verge of checking out from life, your mind wanders to regret.
At the time, the options before me seemed limited; however, I was in the expert care of health professionals at our local university hospital and it is to them that I credit with my complete recovery. I often recall my thoughts when those tiles were my vista. How I wished I’d done more of some things and less of others; I thought of the highways and byways I travelled on foot; of the interesting people I’d met, and of wonderful family and friends.
And I wished, I so wished, that I could have more of this, if I only had the chance...
I vowed then that I would never waste a minute again; although it was not as if I had wasted many before then. I vowed that I wouldn’t let any opportunity pass; that I would fill my time with more of the activities that fulfilled me, and less of the things that did not. And by doing that, the intervening period has been one of the most enjoyable and satisfying.
Now we are all in such a situation; a predicament not of our own making. We are faced with a period of time in which our fragility has been sharpened, our mortality has been brought into focus. We are in a time when every morning we wake with a heavy heart at the cloud that hangs over the globe.
Now, there is a set period of time before us which is akin to a recovery. The guts of three months in which we have to change our behaviour; a time in which there is an opportunity for us all to enable ourselves become better members of our society by arming ourselves with a new skill. Just one skill each improves this country a millionfold.
Now, once again, the people who are in charge of our destiny are those health professionals, the high standards of whom this country is expert at creating and motivating. They are already fine human beings, but the training they receive makes them the envy of the world.
This body of professionals is what stands between us and the continuation of a good life. They are asking us to help them in this quest, to just stay at home, to be responsible foot soldiers in this battle against the invisible virus that lives among us. And we have to show that we appreciate their bravery.
We owe it to them to come out of this better people; to not suddenly allow ourselves fall back into the old ways; the lack of empathy for the weak and the vulnerable, the absence of appreciation; the disgregard for hygiene and health.
Decide this week how you want to come out of this period; more rounded, more read, more learned, more warm, more open to the idea that this shock gives us a once in a century chance to create a more caring society.
Mind yourselves and wash those hands.