Whatever your beliefs, there is something truly wonderful about PEOPLE in this time. The last few days I have been focussing in. Making sure my family are ready as best as I can for the next few months. Let the true scale sink in. [Had a nap – for all those of you who wondered]. And then when I have had a minute I have had a look OUT. I have watched two wonderful communities that I am part of, that mean the world to me, do some truly wonderful things. One in the centre of our biggest city and one in the heart of our agricultural sector. And most of it electronically or through pieces of paper and phone calls. We won’t be able to catch everyone, but I went to sleep for slightly longer tonight knowing they are there. And that they got me and I got them.
There has been a purity to my phone calls. I have told friend that I love them. I asked them direct questions and they have demanded from me hard answers. There are some really difficult conversations to be had right now. Family members have reached out and helped me make our own family decisions. Spoken directly because they knew I was torn. Parcels and cards have arrived for the children that have kept them busy for a whole morning. Thank you. Those cards will sustain them for any months and its one of the reasons why, by hook or crook, sensible governments prioritise a working postal service in an apocalypse.
Working in disaster recovery is a bit like getting to see all the tenets of religion tested in a big lab experiment. You see shocking horror and awe inspiring resilience. Bravery. Gut wrenching disappointment at the state. Unforgettable resilience. You see an awful lot of light at the end of the tunnel.
I don’t know anything about viruses, except that this one seems to be a right little bastard. But I do know my global disasters and the biggy was always going to be the pandemic. I don’t plan for the virus, my maths is terrible, I plan for the bit afterwards. And that plan is HOPEFUL. I believe in my PEOPLE. For every git in a pub right now, there are 50 “community volunteers” trying to get something off the ground via Whatsapp. For every “panic buyer” there are 100 people dropping off a packet of biscuits for people who can’t get out.
The issue right now is that we are inside the tsunami wave, but we are trying to fast to move to the next phase. The recovery, the rebuild, the collective healing. The analysis. The Post Mortem. We are totally distracted by noise instead of focussing in on survival. Think blitz. Think air raid shelter. Think feeding the household. Tell your kids they are int he Household Army now and put them in charge of the First Aid Kit.
In the next week life here will change forever. And change starts with grief. With hiraeth. And that bit hurts A LOT. Here I am lucky again. Many of my dearest friends, my teachers and inspirers, have been down this path before. The life they had before was lost once before. But they built a paradise from their hell (to quote Rebecca Solnit) and they let me peer into it. And it was bloody great.
But you have to get there first.
Right now to quote the wisest fish in the universe Dory we just have to “Keep Swimming”. We have to get through a long drawn out painful time in the trenches and then we survey the damage.
But know this, it will be ok.