As covid restrictions ease, I find myself faced with the realisation of how much my world has shrunk since the start of the first English lockdown in late March 2020.
For most of my life, I have followed current affairs. As part of the generation that grew up without 24 hour news channels or the internet, this started with the daily newspaper my parents had, John Craven’s Newsround, news bulletins on Radio 1, and sitting down to watch the evening news on the telly.
As I started working life, I developed a decades long habit of listening to Radio 4’s Today programme (I got emotional when John Humphreys left!) while getting ready for work, and then came widespread access to the internet (at home and work), with all its news sites and commentaries, followed by smartphones with 24/7 update alerts.
Immediately prior to Covid, I wasn’t working, but still maintained the Today habit, listening to what the long-suffering Mr B termed "the daily squabble" from when he got up for work, through breakfast, usually until it finished. I checked my preferred news apps/websites often, digging deeper into issues of particular interest. I smugly assumed that people who didn’t actively engage with the news weren't interested in and didn't care about other people.
And then came lockdown.
Mr B’s redundancy coincided with lockdown, so neither of us needed to be up at a specific time: in the face of my monumental lack of self-discipline, my Today habit finally crumbled.
At first, I continued to check news apps and websites assiduously, but it seemed that every single headline was about Covid, as if nothing else was happening anywhere. Faced with a barrage of unprovable statistics and unavoidably inconclusive, often unashamedly alarmist, frequently divisive, always depressing reporting, I found myself checking those sites less and less frequently.
While I initially watched the government’s tv updates with the fervour of a wartime family gathered around the wireless, the frustration and nausea the politicians induced soon became too great to bear, and I knew that, one day soon, even with my appalling aim, something I threw at the screen would find its mark: it was time to stop watching.
And so my world shrank.
Yet, as my sense of connection to the outside world faded, something unexpected happened: my sense of connection to myself began to blossom.
Instead of immersing myself in the world’s doom and gloom, saddened and enraged by events and behaviour over which I had no control, I found I was turning my attention to what I could control: me. My thoughts, feelings and behaviour. How I choose to be and the positive difference I can make.
Because we can ALL make a positive difference in some way, can’t we?
✨I can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can smile at people I pass in the street.
✨I can’t eradicate the bad from the world, but I can celebrate the good in my life.
✨I can’t stop all the abuse that goes on, be I can be kind to those around me.
✨I can't wipe out prejudice & discrimination, but I can show respect to everyone.
✨I can’t halt a pandemic, but I can look after myself and others.
✨I can’t create happiness for others, but I can take responsibility for my own.
The shrinking of my world allowed me to see that making a difference starts small, from the inside out.
I like to think that it’s made me a better person…I know it’s made me a happier one. And for that, I am grateful every day.
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