When lockdowns end, will we socialise the same?
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One day in the future, when lockdown is over and we are free to wander where we please, what will our attitude be to socialising?
Will we come out of our shelters, blinking at the crowds and nervous about anyone getting too close? Will we ever go back to hugging and shaking hands or will it feel wrong, foolhardy, to engage in such close contact, knowing what we now do about how easily germs and viruses can be passed from one person to another?
What will be our attitude to socialising when lockdowns are over?
Will we ever be able to turn off the suspicion that dangers, invisible to the human eye, pulse all around us?
When we get back out in the world, will we crave only light, trivial conversations, finding that, having watched for so long rising numbers of infections and grim death counts, we have no appetite for any subject other than the frivolous and the funny?
Alternatively, having spent months evaluating our lives and what is most important to us, will we be conscious of life’s ticking clock, reminding us to make our lives more meaningful?
Will we feel that life is more precious, having lived in the shadow of coronavirus, and that a new sense of urgency dictates that we must not merely fill time?
Life may feel more precious, having lived in the shadow of coronavirus.Credit:Wayne Taylor
There is a third alternative which is perhaps less palatable than the other two. That is that after this lockdown and its attendant period of self reflection, nothing changes in the way we live our lives; we react as if we have just finished one Netflix series and move on to the next.
Time will tell how we respond to our freedom once restored.
In the meantime, there is a flower pot of jasmine on the landing outside my apartment. It is a small pot and the landing is in shadow except for a brief half-hour of sunlight in the early morning.
Despite these limitations, from the start of spring this plant has been throwing out tendrils in all directions. They are light green and long, searching for places to anchor the growing vines.
They remind me that one of the things I want to remember coming out of lockdown is that it is possible to grow despite adversity, if we just make a little bit of progress each day.
I also want to remember the clock that presides over each life, marking the same amount of time for the individual regardless of whether that time is spent thoughtfully or frivolously. Knowing time is finite, it seems that the choice as to how one spends it should at least be a conscious one.
Melissa Coburn is a freelance writer.
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