Light at the end of the tunnel – finding the positives

I am a fixer, annoying for some, I know.  But that is why I love my job, even at the most testing times.  Identifying problems and navigating a route through them is my bread and butter. 

We had been watching the progress of the Coronavirus for weeks.  There had been conversations and initial plans around school closures and in practical terms, we felt well prepared.  But as things started to escalate and the mood changed, I could not help but get caught up in the emotion of it all.  My staff are the most dedicated, caring and supportive team I could ever ask for and they started to mobilise to make sure that all of the wonderful things that the children had been working towards would get their day in the sun before the gates closed.  Even if it wasn’t in the way that they had planned.  Our school show, Jack and the Beanstalk was rushed forward and held in front of a closed audience and the pride I felt for those wonderful children and teachers that made this happen in difficult times, was wrapped up in a deep sadness.  A sadness that their little lives were about to change and they would begin to miss out on the things that we have all taken for granted.  And so we waved them all off with smiles and positive words on Friday afternoon.  And then I wept.  I can make the best of this, but I cannot fix this and that does not sit well with a fixer.

Over the weekend, I started to process all that had happened over the last few weeks.  I talked to people, I followed social media and started to pay a little more attention to the narrative.  This is really serious.  People are going to get sick and some people are going to die.  We all hope the numbers are manageable for our NHS and that those who can be saved, are saved.  Despite this harrowing story which is unfolding, there is definitely a subplot which is less dark.  It dawned on me that I have seen more acts of kindness, more compassion, more understanding than I have in a very long time.  Our society was lost, it was broken in so many ways.  For many of us, life is so comfortable that we have learned to focus on trivia and hate.  We judge and we comment.  We consume items without thought and produce endless amounts of waste.  We do not think about those who do vital things, like stock our supermarket shelves.

Many of us are now making more of an effort with our loved ones, checking in with neighbours, supporting our wonderful local businesses who are adapting and changing to support our communities and keep themselves afloat in desperate times.  Families are hanging out together and planning how to pass the time.  The board-games and jigsaws are coming out and we realise that it is the simple things that can bring our children the most joy.  For once, they are not being shuttled from club to club, bombarded with structured activities and they may actually have time to play.  Maybe they will eventually learn to occupy themselves over these coming weeks.  Just imagine!  Although working from home with children around is a whole new challenge.  Until now many parents have only just been surviving, constantly living on the edge of burnout.  Perhaps this precious time, just to slow down, not to rush anywhere is just what we need and will change our mindset moving forward.  Maybe it will give us time to think clearly, to innovate, to create. 

We will all be impacted by this virus.  For some it will be isolation or illness, others will experience loss or financial hardship.  But maybe, just maybe, this will make us better people and make our society something we can feel proud of.  A recent study examining people with good mental wellbeing found that in all cases, they actively practised gratitude.  And that makes sense.  If we focus on the things that we do have, and less on what we don’t have then we will be happier.  This is the message we should remember, and the message we should use to support our children as we approach this challenge together.

From everything we are led to believe, things are going to get worse before they get better and we all just have to dig deep and do our bit in the meantime.  But all tunnels end, and I feel hopeful that when it does, the light might be a little bit brighter than before.

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