Let’s be honest we are all starting to feel a bit of isolation fatigue by now. We’ve tidied and cleaned around the house, baked for Britain, taken up yoga, learned how to speak French and mastered the piano to concert standard….well some of us have. Personally I’m still trying to summon up the strength to tidy the house. The footpaths around where we live have been beaten down with the constant traffic of isolationists desperate to flee the confines of their homes and feel like they are at least getting a little exercise while we wait impatiently for the shops, cafes, restaurants and bars to re-open.

The truth is that there’s probably quite a bit more isolation to come. The mood music coming from the top seems to be that there’s no sense lifting the lockdown until we’ve got a firm grip on the situation otherwise we could all be set free only to end up being sent back into our bunkers in a few weeks’ time. No, it’s better to take our medicine now and get it over with.

The best case scenario is that we might have reached the half-way point in our isolation journey so now is probably a good time to look back at what we have achieved and what, if anything we might have gained from all this.  

Well, first of all we’ve definitely saved lives and that’s the most important thing. While the loss of life, particularly among the older generation, is horrific, by staying indoors and adhering to the social distancing measures we’ve saved countless others from the same dreadful fate. That alone makes the sacrifice worthwhile.

Some of us have also managed to survive being stuck indoors with our nearest and dearest twenty four hours a day for the last six weeks and that takes a bit of doing! It’s amazing how little time we actually spend with the people we live with under normal circumstances. It’s also amazing how they manage to make so much noise chewing their food, keep leaving wet towels lying around, cupboard doors open, and the lid off the toothpaste. I could go on but you get the idea… patience is a virtue and if there is one thing we are all learning at the moment its patience.

For those of us who live alone, we’ve learned we were never really alone in the first place, we had only to reach out and there was a whole army of people waiting to help. We have suddenly begun talking over the fence to our neighbours again and saying hello to strangers in the street; from a safe distance of course. Old friends and far off family are calling to see how we are doing and the bonds of community that we thought were fading away are growing strong once again.

We can also be proud of the way we’ve mastered new technology like video calling, Whatsapp, click and collect and in some cases…the hover. Technology has been a lifeline for a lot of people in the current crisis and while we often complain about how technology is ruining our lives and long for the good old days before all those screens and “too many items in the bagging area” technology has definitely been a friend to us through all this and proved that, with a big enough bone, you can still teach an old dog new tricks.

Isolation has also given us all a little bit of much needed quiet time. Modern life can be incredibly hectic, even for those of us trying to take things a bit easier. If it’s not the demands of family and friends it’s just the average hustle and bustle all around us. Cars racing by, traffic, noise, queues for the bus, crowded shops, plans to be made and kept, it can all get a little bit much. Isolation has hit the pause button on modern life and it’s actually nice to take a little breather. With no cars on the road you can hear the birds singing in the trees, you can read a book, enjoy some music, just sit back and drift for a while.

The other great gift which isolation has given us is a renewed appreciation for every little thing in our lives. Just think about all those firsts you’re going to enjoy when the lockdown is lifted – the first visit with your family, hugging them close, the first coffee reunited with friends laughing together, the first meal in a restaurant and the taste of food that isn’t home cooked, the anticipation of a trip to the theatre, the smell of a bookshop, the hustle and bustle of a bar. Isolation has taught us to appreciate all the little things in life that we might have taken for granted. It should also teach us to value the things that helped us make it through, the people we live with – even if they do chew too loud, the neighbours we reconnected with, the strangers we spoke to and the community that came together when times were rough.  

And so while isolation has been, and will continue to be a challenge for us all, we can take comfort and possibly even a little pang of regret from the ancient wisdom that this too shall pass.

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