This is Part 1. I don’t know how many of these I will write as we find ourselves tentatively edging along an unknown path. But let’s edge along this path together. There is no way back.
When this has passed, it’s best we remember the small kindnesses that are steadily growing like moss, cushioning and comforting, a headrest on the gnarled bark of this hard day. When this has passed, it’s best we remember the niceness that binds us. The niceness that weaves a tapestry of compassion with an inexorable needle of moral duty, the weighty ropes of ideology laid aside. Because when it’s literally life and death, the only use for any heavy ropes is hauling us back from the brink.
When this is over, it’s important to remember to keep saying good morning with kindness. That an overlooked thank you can hurt and bruise. To keep remembering that human exchange is a gift, and that it’s meaningful, and matters. That making that cup of coffee for a tired colleague is care-cradled, warmth soothing nervous palms. That talk can be a lifeline. That in the swirling uncertainty we need to know we matter, know that our lives have meaning, know that we are loved. When it’s over, it’s important to remember that some people cope every day with an underlying condition; maybe you didn’t know until now – perhaps you’ll continue to care. When it’s over, remember that people can and do say regretful things when they don’t understand, and that fear can bleed the very best and the very worst from us. That love and stupidity and fear and compassion make us so, so very human, and that is to be cherished – let’s remember that too. Let’s remember that although you might not agree with someone, you don’t make them feel guilty or wrong when they’re trying to do the right thing in an unimaginable situation. Because those digs can feel like a cat-o’-nine-tails when the streets are empty, when the sun shines but sharp shadows are cast.
When this ends, let’s not take for granted the joy of togetherness. Of clattering feet in assembly halls, of canteen chatter, of Monday talks by the photocopier. The simple lovely togetherness of friends sitting on a bench, their wishes fluttering up to the blue sky and beyond at break. The togetherness of football after school, of the lunch queue, of form time. Those triumphant togethernesses that overcome, when this ends.
When this has gone, let’s remember that a laptop and a phone screen don’t replace a hand on a shoulder, a handshake, a hug. That houses can be homes, but can also be lonely. That our motte and bailey homes need our drawbridges down, sometimes. When this has gone, let’s remember that we still might have neighbours that need help. That those in the classroom next door to us might need help too. Let’s keep helping.
When this has passed. Until then and beyond then, let’s continue to do all of this. We are all we can be, so let’s keep edging forward. Here – take my hand.
Image from Getty