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  • Rob Butterfield

A LIFE ON PAUSE

A time to think about what the new normal might look like.

I’m in a thoughtful mood. The current lockdown has given me plenty of time to think. No more can I say “I don’t have time ...” because now I have. I have time to do all the things I never got around to. I no longer have that ‘excuse’. Many of us around the world now have time, lots of it. Pause for a moment and think about that.

Also take time to think about our frontline and key workers who are, of course, busier than ever and I’m sure we all share our huge gratitude and thanks for the sterling job they’re doing in these difficult times. But for many of us right now we can no longer pop out for a coffee or a cheeky pint with friends. We can’t ‘insta’ those special moments that at the time we perhaps didn’t realise were quite so special. We’re now posting the ‘real wins’ in life like ‘I got dressed today’ or ‘I had a walk’ or ‘I baked this’. We’re reading about the extraordinary achievements like that of 100 year old Captain Tom Moore raising literally millions for the NHS - think about all of that for a moment.

Our much celebrated ‘celebrities’ - a, b and z-listers alike can no longer impress us with their selfies on a beach in Dubai because for the first time in our lives we have all been in the same amount of limo’s as Arianna Grande this week - none! We too are at home in our pjs, singing and dancing along in amateur videos just like them. It's been quite a cultural leveler. It is now the ‘normal’ people we look up to; the medics, nurses, delivery drivers, carers, cleaners, bin guys and shop assistants that are gaining our respect. We care about the family and friends that we can’t see; we care about our local communities, our NHS and our key workers. That in itself is quite beautiful. Being made to pause for a moment isn’t such a bad thing. Let’s be honest, how many of us can feel a little drop in our tensed-up shoulders now that we have hit the pause button on ‘normal’? I for one have. Life carried on at such a pace that we simply put up with so many of those things that troubled us, consciously or not. This enforced ‘pause’ has given us time to make many changes that we just ‘didn’t have time for’. It’s made us look at our life in all its glory; to reflect on a life journey that we perhaps found ourselves on unintentionally.

Do we need to travel as much as we did? Do we need to work that many hours? Can we work from home? Do we need the latest gadget or fashion item being thrust down our throats, when we’re not even wearing shoes most days? We can all cope better than we thought. We don’t need to get dressed every day and turn up to wherever. We’re actually learning new skills or revisiting old ones. We’re more creative than we ever considered. We’ve seen and heard more musicians on Facebook or YouTube than ever before. We’ve spoken to old friends because we care about them and have the time to talk. We’ve had days doing nothing, literally nothing, and don’t need to feel guilty about it. A pause gives us time to do this.

Don’t get me wrong, when ‘this is all over’ I’m sure we’ll flood in our thousands, tens of thousands, to coffee shops, bars, restaurants and hotels just to feel ‘normal’ again – and maybe that same treadmill of our past life will start again. Pause for a moment... think about what you might change. I can’t wait to hug the family and friends I’ve been missing. I can’t wait to get back on stage with the ‘day job’. I really can’t wait for our frontline and key workers to have a well-deserved rest. I can’t wait for the huge tragedy and loss from this pandemic to be over. I guess it would be easy to say that I can’t wait for things to get back to ‘normal’ – but I’m not sure that I really mean that last point. Maybe we’ll all have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ and that might not be a bad thing. We’ve seen that it’s possible for the air to be cleaner, for waters to be clearer (although seeing dolphins swim in the waterways of Venice was in fact fake news) and for people to be kind to one another. Crime is down and wildlife is having the time of its life wandering through almost deserted towns – these are the things I’d like to try and keep.

If we use this pause to think about how we can change for the better before we press play again there may be some hope among the despair.

Stay well and stay safe x

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