The upside of the downside

Good morning, have you got a new routine going yet?

For a while it was confusion, right?

I was supposed to be at the opening of an exhibition in London last week. It would have included my landscape painting above. And if you live in London, I would have invited you!

But now?

Well, I’ve got this new daily lunchtime cycle ride going. I’ve developed a circuit that takes me through the neighbourhood on a gradual downwards curve to Blackpill.  I’m not on drugs, yet, nor depressed. This is the name of the place where I arrive at Swansea’s waterfront.

Here, you can cycle right onto the beach.

But I don’t, unless I’m with Zac. This weekend for example when we left the bikes and walked out for more than 20 minutes before we reached the sea. The tide was well out and social distancing didn’t even come into it, unless you count the seagulls. (below) We did run though, when we saw that the tide was actually coming in!

The art of social distancing

But other things.

The football sessions in the back garden have taken on a new significance. Our ability to keep the ball in our own garden is seriously limited, but we have got to know our neighbours, on both sides and they’re so cool.  Both love music. Great. We don’t have to mute our guitars!.

Whats App.

Nearly the whole street seems to be in constant communication about one thing or another. Hotting up on the return from work, making sure the Thursday NHS clap-o-meter is fully functioning on every doorstep.

The care workers and medics in the street are daily on the front line. Offers of help with shopping and chores for the older members of the community are a daily occurrence.

Reality kicks in one morning when we hear on WhatsApp of the death of an elderly resident at number nineteen who picked up the virus while in hospital for other reasons.  We have an extra clap one evening for his wife June.

The street party is going to be something else once this threat is over, with people I’ve never met but seem to know well already.

People are walking the deserted streets in families. The birds are singing louder.  A calm has descended as we figure out how to spend our furloughed time or continue to keep the wheels of commerce turning from the lounge or the conservatory.  We’ve become familiar with Zoom and Skype. Technology has come into its own like never before.

Like never before we have a chance to evaluate what is really important to us and what is superfluous.

The planet seems to have taken a deep breath with this virus, as if to say, hold on, let’s think things through.

Are we doing things in the best way? Are we truly happy and content? How much more junk is being thrown unnecessarily every day at the overburdened ecosystems we are all part of?

‘One Planet Living’ is a concept that the Welsh government has thrown its weight behind. Currently all western countries are living beyond their means. Our unique planet Earth is rich and plentiful in resources, but they are finite.  Many countries, it is calculated, are now consuming the earths resources at a rate equivalent, pro rata, to more than two planets worth. Globally we exceeded using one planets worth of resources in the 1970s.

One Planet Cities by David Thorpe

What adjustments do we need to make to redress the imbalance?

The pandemic grave though it is, is giving us an opportunity to do just that.

Are we going to return to business as usual at the first hint of the lock down being lifted?

The opportunity to do things differently can be a massive upside to this pandemic. Let’s consider what this upside could mean for ourselves, our families, churches, communities and the planet.

How can we be good stewards of Gods very good creation?

An architect and painter friend of mine sent an Easter greeting with a picture of Michelangelo’s Pieta. An expressive piece of work in the present context of threat and isolation. It is also relevant to Easter, an image of profoundest grief and loss and by which we can think of all the grieving families at the moment, where hope may seem in short supply.

Pieta by Michelangelo

What I am finding in my world, is that clients are keen to progress ideas and plans for the future. While it is difficult to get a lot of things done right now, planning for the future does not have to be put on hold.

The belief that things will get back to some version of normality before long makes it prudent to think ahead. In some cases the current events have brought a greater sense of urgency. Gearing up for future life as we know it or should I say, as we knew it, means thinking things through differently. For instance we have experienced a massive drop in carbon emissions. This has been accompanied by a welcome reduction in pollution with its detrimental effect on the health of the nation. Or will we want to return to the good old days?

One of our clients has decided that rather than meet the normal parking standards, he will adopt a car sharing scheme on a major development.

Small steps, but moving in a new and exciting direction.

Let’s look to the future by capitalising on the things we have learned and are learning.

The future is bright, but I’m not sure if its orange!

It’s that picture again!

Have a great day.

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modern landscape by noel isherwood