ANNE ELSPETH RECTOR: Crises change us

Anne Elspeth-Rector jpg, BI

Share Adjust Comment Print

Hearing noise near the front of the house I popped around to see if Abbott and Costello – the cut-up cohorts – were cavorting on our fence, finding instead, the gas-meter man, who’d never before been mistaken for a squirrel. Engaging in banter over curious critters it took mere moments to leave us both laughing.

Whether the fire department or parcel post arrives, civic crews or garbage trucks drive by, over fences or passing on sidewalks – even queuing at stores, each casual community exchange holds that little bit longer as we enthusiastically chat each other up at every opportunity; impacts of social isolation making us more eagerly social.

Everyone’s pace of life has altered considerably. Certainly, those serving essential needs need therapeutic rest, while others have seen this strange new world seriously slow life down. Having long-ago adapted to isolation as health reduced my range, beyond medical access, less has changed for me. When we do venture out, line-ups are exceptionally patient and friendly and we tend to maximize every encounter, haste of prior months shed… as less becomes definitively more.

I’m even dressing up with little prompting; like locating the perfect vintage top in my closet to complement peach pedal-pushers, adding chic earrings for my first acupuncture appointment after lockdown. A less than ideal ensemble for treatment but, I looked matchy-matchy good, grinning behind my flowery mask. I’m traipsing about house and yard in Indian gauze garden jackets too; a lovely light layer over little linen dresses – and lacy ‘skitter’ screen too. I don’t get out much, so why save outfits for events that aren’t on tap? Better to gussy up and use nice things rather than wait for distant occasions.

It’s like the silverware set out whenever we hosted indoor dinners. We weren’t trying to impress, rather, ensuring finer things don’t end up in an estate auction without first passing through our fingers a few times. Surely, saving things for another day has lost its pre-COVID cachet, eh?

From enthusiastic escapism of vapid TV helping shut stress switches off, to more home-based projects and household tasks, everyone’s shifting leisure focus. And we’re chatting more with family and lifelong friends, those who’ve seen us through life’s stages; wild times, withstanding heartaches, and wondrous happy moments too, conversations becoming philosophical as we express greater certainty of who we are, what we’ll tolerate and now are willing to accept. In many ways we’re more understanding, in others, less… our time perhaps, more measurably precious. Most are respectfully reflective.

As neighbours cultivate homegrown produce, prowess is also proudly shared; lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes exchanged via fences as veggies are eaten more often in the ‘hood. Meanwhile, many of us are expressing gratitude more readily… not every day but, on most days.

For some, COVID-19 wrought awful impacts, while others have endured less upheaval. However, this pandemic has affected each person, it’s certainly changed us… as all crises will. Yet, I’m reminded how incredibly adaptable and resilient I can be, even more than I expect at times. I earnestly hope you are too.

For those who find COVID changes harder, please reach out to someone responsible, and request some respectful guidance and TLC. Good souls exist throughout our community, and many truly want to ensure everyone weathers this ordeal… as well. Because change can also often come with good.