My iPhone has helpfully reminded me that today I was due to be boarding a flight with my wife for Vienna. We were travelling there to meet my parents and my sister for a long weekend, celebrating my Mum’s 70th Birthday in March, and my Dad’s which was in June 2019.
Instead, I wake to a sunny Friday morning under Covid-19 lockdown (again).
It sucks. It’s another plan cancelled and a further reminder that I’ve not seen some of my nearest and dearest in months. I’m in lockdown with my wife and step-kids, but I’ve not seen my daughters in weeks — they’re with their mum. Events, trips and festivals we had planned throughout the year are gradually getting cancelled and postponed. I’ve got a paid holiday allocation from work for the first time since 2011, but nowhere to go and no desire to take the time just to sit at home.
But, you know what — it’s okay.
As my sister reminds us in our family WhatsApp group this morning — we have our health and each other, even if we can’t take the trip.
That counts for a lot right now.
For all that we’ve lost, there are many who’ve lost far more — jobs, income, stability, peace of mind, physical and mental helath and loved ones. Being denied a trip is really not so big a hardship in the bigger picture.
We share daily selfies, checking in as we each take our morning walks at opposite ends of the country. Amidst these pictures, there are links to Youtube videos for songs that seem poignant or pertinent to the mood of the day. My dad leads off with ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox. I’m reminded of the song by the same title by Billy Joel.
I play the song while getting ready to log on for another day of working from home (another thing for which I am grateful) and a lyric stands out:
“When will you realise, Vienna waits for you.”
-Billy Joel, Vienna
That’s the truth.
I’m certain that life post-Covid-19 isn’t going to look or feel the same as it was before. In fact, I think we should accept each day as the new normal rather than holding on for an illusive utopian end-state we think will come when things settle down again. Each day we have is our new normal. It’s up to each of us to live it as such rather than pining for something that we can’t have or which we used to have.
All that said, it’s helpful to remember when things seem at their bleakest or when we feel deprived that the things we’re missing out on will come around again in some form or another.
We will once again be able to relax, laugh and hug our friends and loved ones. We will adapt to the new ways of working or find new ways to support our families. When we do, it will hopefully be driven by acquiring and appreciating the essentials of life rather fixating on the shiny accessories and material distractions that now seem hollow and meaningless.
Trips and vacations will be possible again one day — the places we were due to visit will still be there when this has passed. We’ll have the chance to anticipate and then appreciate them in future, hoping that at some point we are again able to enjoy the freedoms we once relied upon.
Until then, patience is called for.
When we’re staring down the barrel of another day of lockdown it can be hard to remember that life will go on — it is going on. The time will come when we can do the things we currently can’t and until then we just have to be patient.
Vienna will wait for you.