It’s extraordinary to think that last week we all got excited about being able to see up to six people out of doors and that many of us seized the opportunity with both hands the minute we were able. Some children returned to school too and were reportedly very excited to be back amongst their friends and learning.
The return of a small number of children to a small number of classes in a limited number of schools has excited a good deal of comment and speculation. The schools are taking extraordinary measures to make the new system work, parents have a range of views about the safety and practicality of those measures and everyone else is watching (sometimes incredulously) the lengths everyone has gone to.
As I write many people have started returning to offices and factories, garden centres are open and non-essential shops are next. We can look at a new house, buy a new car and go on a picnic. It almost feels like life is returning to normal… but of course it isn’t and it won’t for quite a while.
Some of us are still working, some of us are on furlough, those of us with portfolio careers might be doing a bit of both. All of us are finding new ways to do things and, in many cases, new things to do entirely. Whatever we are doing, it seems that almost all of us are waiting for normality to return and, whilst we wait, exploring new ideas.
Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher who was born a slave and became a free man and teacher. As a stoic, many of the quotes attributed to him are particularly apposite at the moment (‘there is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will’), as well as more generally (‘we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak’), but what particularly strikes me during Coronavirus is Epictetus’s remark that ‘[people] are disturbed, not by things, but by the view which they take of them’.