Planetwise.
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Planetwise.

I will remember to be kind.

I wrote this journal almost a year ago, at a time when our global pandemic was just beginning to take a grip on our lives.

I wrote it at the beginning of the feeling of uncontrollable uncertainty. At the end of what was usually a very normal life and a very steady existence.

The sentiment is more important now than ever.

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It is hard not to focus on what is lost or might be lost when you are facing a difficult moment in life.

When a single individual’s world is knocked off its axis, we can all help to support and rationalise. We can share their sadness, without being distracted by sadness of our own. We can show them logic where they might be seeing chaos, because we are calm and rationale.

We can persuade them that it will get better, even if they think the fabric of their lives is being torn apart. We can see how it might be fixed.

But right now, it feels like everyone’s world has fallen off its axis.

Not just that, but fallen off its axis, rolled out of the cosmic door and been kicked into a interstellar hedge. It feels like we are living in a parallel universe.

The sun might be shining outside, and spring is might be in the air. But it seems soon we will not be allowed to to go outside into that sunshine, or stroll in spring flowers. It seems this my be the case for what seems like ever again.

We are watching large parts of the population coming to terms with a virus that is not a small thing happening to someone else, somewhere else. It is happening to us all, right here.

Coronavirus has stirred up collective emotions in a way that I have never seen before. We are shocked or angry, or we are pleading for perspective, or we are offering hope. Data gives predictions, but is then dismissed as incomparable. Opinions have been elevated, and then divided. We have acted too quickly, or not quickly enough. We are doing the right things. We are doing the wrong things. Someone else did it better, somewhere else did it worse.

For the first time, the top ten news articles on every news site are all related to one topic.

I can’t help in moments for my mind also to turn to the things that we will lose by making restrictions to our lives.

Time. Money. Convenience.

But this is nothing compared to anyone who might have to measure loss from the standpoint of human contact. Or an empty space where there was once someone whom they love. This sounds dramatic, but it is not so dramatic to be deniable.

I want to use this moment to make some decisions. Big moments in life can be good moments to make decisions. Good moments to make promises to yourself, before life and routine swallows us again.

Mine is this: to remember to be kind.

I will remember to be more kind in my thoughts to those who are making decisions on our behalves. Whenever faced with an unknown scenario, opinion only creates divide. No-one knows exactly what is going to happen. There will be an impact, and we can agree or disagree what that will be.

The common ground is understanding. Understanding that someone will be right, and someone will be wrong, but decsions have to be made. Understanding there are people making these very difficult decisions. Trust they are making them for the right reasons, even if it turns out to be the wrong thing.

There is common ground in acting together, failing, and using that to learn. If we don’t trust our governments, or each other, it is time for that trust to be built. If we don’t agree, we comply anyway, not for the government but for each other.

I will be more kind to those around me, whenever I can. In the end, the statistics say that people in my demographic may come out of the other side of this pandemic with their long-term health in-tact. With minor inconveniences to work and lifestyle. Nothing in comparison to people who lose their health, or lose their livelihoods, or lose someone close to them.

But this does not mean we should take it less seriously, or be complacent. If it is statistically less of our problem, it means it is more of someone else’s. If we put ourselves to one side, we can instead give more focus to others.

Even since the beginning of this week in the UK, kindness to others feels like it is growing. Individuals reaching out to individuals, and communities to communities. Strangers are sharing ideas with strangers. Individuals are organising themselves and are being kind with their time for others. We can be kind to those who are going to throw themselves in the way of coronavirus. Those who have chosen a caring path and who are at the front line of healthcare. They will be asked to do the opposite to us all. They will be the ones who are keeping our parents and our grandparents well, or alive. They are the ones who will see less of their families, and cannot work from home.

Their kindness, and our thanks, should be what echoes the loudest after this storm passes. Those who are keeping our society moving, those who are keeping us safe. They are those who are fixing things, delivering things, for as long as they are able.

Kindness also means understanding when others do not act in a way that I agree with. We all do things that we do not expect of ourselves, through fear or through stress. I will likely act in a certain way that I don’t recognise at some point. People will do things we don’t agree with. But at the end of this pandemic, we will all hold our families and our friends a little tighter. We will all see community a little differently, and perhaps will be more tolerant.

Life will be changed.

Perhaps things will not go back to normal. And what if some things that change don’t change back? What if we are forced to live a little bit slower? What if we are forced to exist in a personal world that is a little bit smaller? What if the things that we consumed habitually, we couldn’t get for a while and realised that we didn’t really need them? What if we made a new relationship, with someone that we don’t lose? What if we rebuilt a bridge that we thought had been lost?

So, on top of remembering to be kind, I will think about what I don’t have to change back that will keep me kind. I don’t know what that is yet, because so much is changing and yet to change further. We are going to learn a lot about ourselves in the next few months. It could be a chance for a physical or mental declutter. A chance to stop doing or consuming something that is not good for us, forever.

Like never before, we are all connected. We can make a difference to the lives of our fellow humans. We can create a direct positive impact, and we can resist pressure to revert to past habits.

And when it comes to kindness, when this particular focus of our kindness has passed, we can continue to practice the habit.

We can remember how this felt. We can keep some of the parts of the change that we are experiencing. Keep them as permanent, positive habits and ways of treating each other.

It is too soon to think beyond the hypothetical, because our focus needs to be on health. We can share, contribute, and remember to be kind right now.

Loss will be felt by many, in many different ways, but if we are all a bit kinder, then the world does not have to return to how it used to be.

The world will be changed, but it also can be changed, forever.

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