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‘We will learn to value the small acts of kindness from strangers’

By jos clark, Wednesday Apr 8, 2020

Before sitting down to write this piece, I took a little time to think about what I should say as it seemed impossible to write this article and not talk about the only thing which is consuming our lives as the moment.

Of course it has to be Covid-19, but I did not want to dwell on the negative aspects of our lives, the pressures and the not knowing when or how this will ever end.

I wanted to look at some of the positive aspects of our new lives and the lessons that can be learnt from this time. But as I am writing I am given the biggest reality check, and it simply takes my breath away. One of my school mates has succumbed and just lost his life to this disease.

So, just as an indication of the daily changes I am writing this at the beginning of April and inevitably by the time this goes to print the sands of time might have shifted ever so slightly and we will probably be living with a new set of rules and code of conduct.

Well, who would have thought that life would have turned out like this? This is just one of the phrases that seem to be bandied around in these rather jarring and strange times. Although life seems to be constantly shifting and quite literally changing day by day there is so much to be thankful for.

In just three weeks my life has gone from being really busy with a very full and varied diary and then it all started to change and it has to be said this happened over a period of just a few days. Appointments, engagements and regular commitments simply started to get cancelled, and life outside the home ground to a halt.

As the news filter through my brain about the measures being imposed in other countries I started to reevaluate how I might live and by dint of fact the possibilities and challenges before me.

I feel that the time so far has been an enriching journey where we have learnt to communicate and socialise in new ways, using conferencing facilities on our computers, keeping in touch with people near and far with all the apps at our disposal.

So, experiences can be shared and relationships maintained. This makes me reflect on how different it must have been for my grandmother who lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It feels like her experience would have been far scarier not being in contact with loved ones and not knowing how they were getting on.

Life has taken on a form and structure which means that I assign a task a day to myself and I never thought I would say this but I have taken up doing a puzzle in the evenings. And this takes me right back to my childhood when we always had a new puzzle for Christmas, and this was a family activity. It has been lovely to go tumbling back in time to those very simple pleasures.

On the occasions when I go out it has been delightful to see people taking pleasure in walking and cycling, and I have enjoyed my cycle rides on quieter roads.

So on reflection do I think this experience will change us, and I have to say yes it will. The time will probably be named as a signifier and out of the horrible negative will be some pure simple learning. About our ability to change and adapt but also a love of simple pleasures like bird song and quiet skies of the purest blue. We will learn to value the small acts of kindness from strangers and see the good in the friends and acquaintances who have kept in touch.

The worry of losing loved ones and the hopelessness of not being able to start the healing will take time but we will come to terms collectively. But I still believe there is much to be positive about and we will be better for the experience when we come out the other end being able to value and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Jos Clark pictured with fellow Lib Dem Andrew Varney before lockdown measures came into play. Photo courtesy of Bristol Lib Dem group

Jos Clark is the current lord mayor of Bristol and a Lib Dem councillor for Brislington West

Read more: ‘It is obvious we have a huge need for information but it could be a double-edged sword’

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