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The plans of mice and men

Author: Lorraine Mallon
Year: Future

In the foreign country of last year, I was making plans. Forecasting a new life. Looking to the future. 2020 was to be my year. My age would not define me. I had accepted it was no more than the passing of time. I was planning birthday celebrations. Creating memories to last. Trips to the theatre, opera, and ballet. A week of celebrations, leading to the party; having fun with family and friends.

But as January mumbled into February and February roared into March, something worse than a Tsunami was about to hit us. Coronavirus. The invisible enemy, its armies enhancing. Spreading through homes, communities, and continents. The world, facing a pandemic. The pause button pressed. Lockdown announced and life as I had known it, gone.

My excitement and expectations for the year ahead, rubbed out. The dates in the diary, like a row of dominoes came toppling down. Upcoming events, cancelled. Postponed to another time. Past, present and future an abstraction. Today, I live in the now. For comfort I look to my past. A reminder that I had a life. This suffering of now, will overcome through time. The future, fixing the pandemic in history.

What future? I fear nothing will remain the same. Stability is annulled by change. A life, I could not have guessed. The plans I made, now scrapped. In lockdown I ask,’What will life be, after this?’ I had made a promise to myself I would no longer waste time. The events in my life were the times of my life. Times I hoped to still have. But something tells me those times are spent.
How could I have known what the future would bring? Like Burns’s mouse my plans wiped out. My dreams coming to nought. How could I have prepared for this? I did not doubt my plans. But without doubt there is no certainty. Now I am held back with fear, my planning like my life: stopped. I wait out time for my future.

With silence the anthem of the pandemic, I have time to reflect. Is there more to be thankful, than there is to fear? Tomorrow is only conjecture. How do I know, my beliefs will come true? The choices I make now will design my future. One I hope, is changed for the better. Communities coming together. Bold action, taken, the finding of a voice, to join the conversation.

We cannot go back to our lives of the past. Where digital technology dissolved time. Work stole into leisure and leisure became work. The scarcity of time with family and friends. Loneliness is endemic. No time to care as we rush around to get things done. How we had forgotten to stand and stare. Quiet times, for our thoughts, to become clear. To realise, the damage must stop.

The pandemic has created the stop. What and who we value has changed. Celebrities and influencers outweighed by the heroes on the front line. Dustmen, posties, supermarket workers, carers, and NHS staff. Their leverage soared. For the first time in years pollution has dropped. The smog blown away, leaving the world with clean air. Maybe the seasons will come back: trees in blossom as shoots pierce the soil and rivers fill up. The earth being allowed to heal. Globalisation and capitalism gone. People with new vision, given new choices for a new world.

What part will I play in the new world? What will I have learned in isolation, this strange time when my life has abruptly stopped? How have I changed with my freedom taken away? Imprisoned in this lockdown hell. I had planned this decade to be about me. Embracing the closeness of family and friends. Finding the carefree girl, who I left behind, when the woman tackled the travails as life kicked in. To ignite old skills and have new adventures. Living the life. The one I planned.