There are many new faces on the small country roads where I run each morning. People I have never before encountered out discovering the wonder of the countryside, finding the delights that have surrounded them for decades but which they might have never noticed to this extent. How many people have rediscovered the wonder of exercise? Granted it is easy now at this time of the year with the sun shining and the birds belting their little hearts out from every branch... and with less traffic on the roads making it safer for children to discover the wonder of cycling.
This week as we have entered the first phase of exiting lockdown, we go back into doing things the way we used to, although there will be many challenges to how we manage this while maintaining social distance and adhering to health and safety standards.
We have learned a lot from our experience of the past few months, but just like Tom Hanks leaving the island on Cast Away, are there parts of that life we would rather maintain? Despite having been forced into lockdown, there are elements of it that many of us want to keep in our kit bag.
We have been shown that there is an extra quality to life that many of us have not been able to attain because of the demands of modern living. In truth, most of us adhere to a 19th century mode of working that dictates that you must be at a certain place at a certain time and perform a certain task. Now, as the modern tech companies have shown us, it does not matter where you are as long as that task gets completed.
The study into working from home, undertaken by the Whittaker Instiute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission illustrated that almost all of us would like to retain an element of working from home. Perhaps not entirely, but in the days that it makes sense to.
But there is more to this than just working from home. There are aspects of life that we would like to retain in the strange new world that awaits us. If you have rediscovered exercise, then maintain it as a part of your lifestyle. Obesity and reckless living are factors in a lot of the most common illnesses, the treatment of which fills our hospitals. Work stress and pressure experienced by commuters undoubtedly takes years off us all as well.
We are now entering an era when the old certainties are no longer that. We have met the challenge of this pandemic face on and found the resources to ensure that life can go on. Even if we will be paying this back for years, were we to suggest before that such measures could be arranged in normal times, you would be laughed at.
In this strange new world, let us ask ‘why not’ instead of ‘why’ when we are told that certain projects and infrastructure can proceed. At the turn of this year as we entered a new decade, we never guessed that a major medical episode would dictate how we lived our life. Even climate change was dismissed as something for the people of 2055 to worry about.
As we head out the door to a post-lockdown life, decide what tools you are going to arm yourself with, and march forward confidently.