Home, not alone: Hope for the future

We are emerging from under the covers into a world that has evolved into something new, writes Ruairi ODuil. But will we embrace different lives?

‘It’s the final countdown. We’re heading for Venus…’

Or at least back to school. 

Hard to believe that it’s 35 years since the band Europe sang these lyrics in its glam metal epic The Final Countdown. 

Which is about as long as we’ve been isolating.  

Here in Melbourne, we’ve been creeping out from under the covers for the past week or so, and we’ve all been a bit de-mob delirious. We’ve been allowed to socialise in small numbers and the littlest and the biggest kids have been brought back into real school 

And there hasn’t been a spike or a second wave and we’ve all gone a little bit mad. We’ve all leapt at the opportunity to socially connect again. Public places are busy, crackling with the tension between the desire to be free, to be out and about, and the underlying angst that there are too many people too close together. And nobody is wearing masks. Or everybody’s touching everything. Or… (insert your own trigger here). 

We’ve gone a’visiting our friends and loved ones. And thankfully we have grounds here for hope. The numbers are good. Great, even. We seem to trust that there are good systems in place to spot, monitor and manage an outbreak should it happen. 

And so, we hope and trust that it’s safe to send our kids back to the classroom. 

The Teenager, as a Year 10, is a hybrid this week, at home for some subjects, in school for his VCE subject. And like most kids, I imagine, he’s just adapted and got on with it. Misses some things, gains others, but it is what it is and forward we move. 

The Dancer cannot wait. His mood has been brighter since the return date was announced. The light at the end of the dark tunnel is drawing him out. That, and playdates. Man, have we missed playdates? 

So, we go forward in trust and hope. Into a normal that has echoes of one we knew but one that has, like us, evolved into something new.  

For a start, we have heightened awareness of what is normal. Before Corona, life was just life. How much attention did we really pay to the quotidian, daily living? Not enough, usually. 

And now we do. Now, we have a chance to create our own new normal. We have a sparkling opportunity to take our hope and optimism and fold it into our new lives.  

We have all learned new things in this period of enforced reflection.  

We have learned about the need for quality connection to other people and to ourselves. We have learned about our relationships with our partners and our children, as, stripped of easy, or indeed any, diversions, we have had to spend plenty of quality time with each other. And for many, that was good. 

And we have learned about time. Isn’t it strange how having had so much spare time has actually taught us about the value of time? 

Do you remember how much we used to give out about how we never had enough time to get everything done.

Then we did. 

And then some. 

And still there are jobs not done, books not read, self-care routines not developed, new hobbies un-discovered.  

It wasn’t just about time but also motivation.  

And now, as we awaken from hibernation and stumble back into the daylight, routine reclaims its hours and our disposable time diminishes.  

But not all of it 

Kids return to school but many adults still commute to work in the spare bedroom. And perhaps one of the legacies of this time will be the death of the requirement to be in the office five days a week. 

So there is a gift available to us of the hours we should lose commuting. An hour and a half, two hours a day? Three? 

Are you going to let it evaporate in chores, or lie-ins or screen-time? Or are you going to consciously cherish it? 

Will you invest it in self-care: meditation or yoga or tai chi or walking or some other personal growth activity? 

Will you continue to maintain a conscious connection with your family and take the time to do school pickup or classroom volunteering (when we’re allowed again) or games night or whatever new thing that you found that worked for your family? 

Or will you reach outside yourself and volunteer your two hours to something that can contribute to your wider community, make a difference and create a new purpose for you? 

What are you going to do with the gift of the time you save without commuting? 

Are you going to waste it? 

Or are you going to live in it?

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About Ruairi O'Duil

Ruairi O’Duil has parked his reflexology business during the pandemic, and is contributing regularly to The Parents’ Website, offering his insights into family well-being.

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