IT was ‘back to school’ for the majority of pupils this week, with college students getting ready to return to campus life within the coming days and weeks, too.
That is probably the best example of life getting ‘back to normal’ that we have seen for some time.
It was also announced this week that a phased return to offices will begin later this month, and an almost complete relaxing of restrictions by October 22nd.
Furthermore, Nphet looks set to disband days before that, so the daily briefings and figures could well be a thing of the past long before Christmas 2021.
There is nobody who has not been affected by the restrictions that Covid forced on us, and the reopening of society has to be a positive move to be welcomed.
The hospitality industry, the music industry and so many other sectors will embrace the easing of restrictions having waited so long to get back on track.
But consistently research has shown that the public lags behind the lobbyists when it comes to enthusiasm for easing the Covid rules.
We haven’t exactly flocked in droves back to shops, to cinemas or to pubs.
A large contingent of people will remain cautious despite vaccinations, as a certain number of what has been termed ‘breakthrough cases’ will still be seen in fully vaccinated people.
And it is still unknown how many others may simply carry, and thereby spread, the virus, albeit unwittingly, to unvaccinated or vulnerable people.
We must also take on board that a lot of the people who will be asked to return to the office environment after September 20th will be reluctant to do so, out of fear, out of caution and for some, out of a sense of being ‘institutionalised’ at home.
We have lived through the most unsettling 18 months of our lifetimes, and hopefully that will not be repeated.
But such a disconcerting experience is bound to leave many people with a sense of lived trauma, and that should not be trivialised by those who got through it less marked.
Some people will have lost jobs, lost friends, lost relationships and even lost loved ones since March 2020.
Others will have lost a sense of security in the world, and that might never be retrieved.
We can only hope that we are entering a new period in our combined history when the planet’s population will become more patient, more kind, and more understanding.
So many people have discovered something they never realised was so precious: time. They have re-evaluated their working lives, their career/life balance, and how they fill their days.
West Cork has seen the benefits of this with so many people choosing to relocate here or spend some of their week working ‘remotely’ from outside the city.
However we approach the next few decades, we should see this as a chance to re-boot humanity.
We can go one of two ways: we can embrace the new style of living, of getting our priorities in line with our goals for life and enjoying the best this world can offer us. Or we can let things slowly slide back to where we were before – on treadmills of achievement, without stopping to see what really matters, and realising the short amount of time we have here, and making the very most of it.
Let’s hope we make the right choices this time.