As I lay in bed this morning listening to the miserable sound of the rain falling outside, it suddenly and sadly struck me that, outside of my immediate household, I hadn’t seen anyone smile in nearly three weeks.
As I pondered this further I realised that this wasn’t because everyone was miserable, but because the only people I have seen in the last few weeks have been shopworkers and the occasional delivery person, all whose faces, and smiles, have been safely hidden behind a facemask.
Undoubtably, at times we will all feel down. The isolation will affect us all differently and some will find it much harder than others. And whilst some smiles may be out of sight behind a facemask, others will in contrast hide their frowns and feelings behind an unseen mask, even when there’s no threat of infection.
But I still can’t help but think that despite everything, spirits are pretty high.
And I believe that this is due largely to a huge, fantastic group of people out there that are doing wonderful things, every day, to keep us all feeling positive, upbeat and connected. I don’t think until now they have received anywhere near the recognition they truly deserve. I feel that needs addressing. So tonight’s blog is a little different and aims to do just that.
Collectively, this group is called: YOU.
With weeks, possibly months of isolation and boredom ahead, YOU rose to the challenge to make it as least tedious as possible.
YOU are sharing useful posts on how to exercise and keep fit indoors, how to eat on a budget, teaching resources for home schooling, ideas to keep children occupied whilst ‘unplugged’, craft sessions and how to make homemade Facemasks.
Then there are the memes, the jokes and the funny stories YOU are posting. And the Facebook photo challenges and quizzes YOU are taking part in for everyone’s amusement. Pictures of family baking days – successes and outright failures. There are links to Facebook groups where ordinary people, YOU, are putting on virtual concerts, festivals and other online entertainment to give us all a sense of going out, whilst safely staying in.
YOU are also providing practical support to the vulnerable or at risk. YOU are offering to collect their shopping or vital medicines, or to be that friendly voice at the end of the phone.
It might not always seem like much, but do not underrate just how important what YOU do is. YOU are lifting the spirits of friends, neighbours and complete strangers. YOU are helping them get through long days of isolation. Most importantly, YOU are letting them know that they are not facing this alone, by themselves, but with and alongside YOU.
Just a few weeks ago, Europe, if not the World, was divided by one all consuming, divisive subject. But today YOU are responsible for uniting us all.
Because of YOU, there are a lot more smiles in the world right now than there would have been otherwise. Even if sometimes those smiles must stay safely behind a facemask.
I know that with YOU, we will get through this. So tonight at 8pm, we will not only be clapping for the health services, emergency services, shopworkers, hospital cleaners and the many other frontline workers, we will also be clapping and cheering for YOU.
It might not always feel it, but YOU are doing fantastic.