Just in case every marketer in the country has yet to get in your ear,
Spring has apparently ‘sprung’,
And the winds of change are here to usher in a new season –
That is, unless you are a citizen of both this country and of the world right now.
In which case, it’s the same old – locked down and locked in.
And while I won’t contribute to the chorus of anger,
I will however join one of both sadness,
And of a lack of hope.
Whilst sadness comes and goes in waves during times like these,
(…during times like most really)
The importance of being able to hold onto hope is paramount.
It’s the one thing that can get you through any trying time,
And something I have been doing my utmost to keep in high supply in my household over the last eighteen months.
But as so often does in the states of our mind,
Oftentimes the pendulum swings the other way,
And brings with it something new and challenging to feel and to deal with.
And right now, the challenge I face is that of a loss of hope.
Whilst there isn’t any thought of this current situation going on forever,
There is an overwhelming number of thoughts,
And associated heartache,
About exactly when it will be over.
Because we’ve been here before,
We’ve been told many times ‘it’s almost over’,
And 12 months ago, if you’d have told me that September 2021 would look exactly the same as it did in 2020,
I’d say ‘interesting, now leave me alone’,
And leave you to be on your negative, pessimistic way.
Because by all accounts 2021 was going to be the year to make up for 2020 –
Not to be its exact twin.
2021 was to be the year for rescheduled parties, weddings and events from the year before,
The year of catch-ups,
The return of spontaneity,
The year to get back to normal.
The year to celebrate the one year of hardship we had endured.
We had a deal.
Yet here we are.
Spring is here,
2021 is entering its sunset months,
And it often feels like we’re right back where we started.
All the sacrifices never seem to be enough,
Our hard work always coming up against a new roadblock.
And whilst we know we’ll back to normal soon enough,
Having that light at the end of a long, long tunnel somehow seems to only make the final lap even more excruciating.
Because there are so many things to look forward to,
And I’d just like to know which ones will be wiped from my calendar,
And which I will get to enjoy.
And though there are always things to appreciate in the day to day of right now,
And much to be grateful for,
The loss of hope has hit me hard.
It was something I had a boundless supply of all through the hardest times of 2020,
And for the entire first half of 2021,
Yet something that seems to have eluded me now.
And coming from a year and a half of a pandemic,
And of having plans and life’s enjoyments snatched from my hands,
To ‘hope’ oftentimes seems a more painful path to take,
Than to just push hope away, and keep it from your mind.
Because as we inch closer and closer to the invisible finish line of lockdown,
Being without a solid timeline seems to be more agonizing than having no timeline at all.
And as a future enthusiast,
As someone who gets more than a little excited for events and birthdays and catch-ups,
And their associated planning,
Not allowing myself to look forward to things means I’ve taken away a part of me.
In the right here, right now, plans can only be pencilled in, and are oftentimes erased just as quickly.
The true pleasures in life, whether it’s the smaller things like a dinner with friends, the bigger ones like planning a trip away, or the truly special ones like attending a wedding of two people you love,
Have now been tainted with the fear of ever ‘jinxing it’ and bringing on another lockdown and subsequent restrictions by ever being so brave as to dare to start looking forward to something.
That’s a no-no.
There is only the here and now,
Stuck in the fog of the unknown,
Inching forever forward, blindly,
Doing our best not to rock the boat nor allow ourselves to start thinking too far ahead.
And whilst we’ve been told time and time again to sit in the present,
To appreciate the moments we are in,
And be truly here,
The excitement of having things on the horizon makes life that much more special.
It allows for the buzz of seeing the date you have circled in your calendar draw closer and closer,
And more often than not, getting ready for something is just as fun as whatever it is we’re getting ready for –
Whether it’s buying a present, or putting on the outfit.
Yet now, I find myself denying these things as being real,
As being possible,
As being anything I am even remotely looking forward to,
Because the thought of having them snatched away again only serves to makes this whole ordeal so much harder than it already is.
And after eighteen months of having plans ripped out from under me,
Torn apart and stomped on,
The pain of unpacking a suitcase that was never used, or calling Qantas and Airbnb to reschedule yet another flight and postpone yet another booking, is getting all too hard.
There is so much of ourselves that is taken away or denied when we are locked away from the people and the life that we know.
And above being an avid planner of events, outfits and presents,
I am an Uncle.
As someone with no kids – now and likely in the future,
I am fortunate enough to have found that being an Uncle completely sustains the chronically clucky part of my heart, and keeps me fulfilled.
I’ve been spoiled now for more than six years with a flood of kids coming into my life,
Each and every one of whom play such a huge role in my overall happiness.
And while the title hasn’t been taken away from me,
The best part of being an Uncle has.
The part that gets to play with them,
To see their growth and their character develop with my own eyes,
To have them there in front of me – really there,
Not just through photos, or videos, or FaceTimes.
That’s gone for now.
That’s been taken.
And whilst it’s not forever, and nor will the pain be,
It’s still real, and it’s still here – now.
And having to buy, wrap, and post another birthday present to a niece or nephew,
Or see their big moments happen on a screen,
Is just another reminder of the precious months and years that are slipping away from us.
So for now, it seems this is yet another lesson in patience,
A lesson in gratitude, and a lesson in endurance.
Of learning from the hardships forced upon us by an invisible presence,
Uncaring and relentless.
A test that will hopefully continue to make us better, and make us stronger,
Even though right now, we’re not sure how.
Because what else can we hope for,
Other than to have this whole ordeal actually mean something?
To come out of these times as more durable, more caring people.
Instead of writing it off as nothing more than two years we’ve had snatched from our lives.
Because whilst the hope that life will go back to normal anytime soon may be dwindling,
The faith of humans to grow, to step up, and to be there for one another remains.
And so, for now, I guess we wait –
Wait to return to who we were and who we are.
Wait to see and hold those we love the most,
Wait to have the many missing parts of ourselves returned,
Wait to be whole again.
Because the time is coming.
The outfits are planned,
The presents are wrapped,
The pens are poised on the calendar –
We’re all just waiting to RSVP.