Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte

These are interesting times

“May you live in interesting times” is reputed to be an ancient Chinese curse, but apparently it isn’t. Not that it matters where it came from so long as we all understand its meaning and intent. The idea of living in “interesting times” is, for many of us, a curse indeed. After all, what most of us really want is peace and stability in our lives, not the constant upheavals that “interesting times” would inevitably bring.

It is fairly clear, I think that we have all been living in interesting times recently. Any idea of “normal” has become something of a pipe dream as our lives have been turned upside down by events beyond anyone’s control. But, on reflection, I am in a bit of a quandary over all these “interesting times” curse. Yes, I do like my routines and stability. It is good to have some idea of where your life is going and what you can expect from day-to-day. But change and the pressure to adapt are key elements of Darwin’s theory of evolution and it is only through change that we can hope to grow and develop. Organisations or groups that rest on their laurels are destined to fail, often quite dramatically.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with change Change is good, even when it isn’t! I know that sounds like a contradiction, but as I see it, every change brings with it opportunities. The change itself may be initially perceived as bad, but in most cases, one can find something good, even if it just a foundation on which to build something positive.

Of course, what we have all been facing over the last 10 months has forced many of us to reconsider our priorities. My own circumstances have changed quite considerably since this time last year. Some of those changes are only loosely connected to the Covid-19 and its impact. The biggest change for me is my decision to close down my gallery. It is a shame and I wish I didn’t have to do it, but back-to-back lockdowns and a landlord who wants me out have combined to force my hand. If I am honest it was more of a hobby than a business anyway. Whilst I enjoyed it, I am clearly not a businesswoman and most weeks it barely broke even.

And this time last year I was in a steady relationship. It was hardly full of passion, but we were comfortable with each other and I enjoyed Robert’s company. He made me laugh even if we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things. In retrospect though, it is clear that we had very little in common, no common areas of interest. But we made it work and things were going well until the first lockdown. We decided that I would move in with him as we were both living alone at the time.

For the first week or so, everything went as well as could be expected. The rot set in about week three when Robert decided he was bored with the whole isolation thing and started socialising with various friends. I was not happy about that but turned a blind eye at first. I know, I should have put my foot down, but that is not easy with a man like Robert; he saw the whole thing as some kind of joke and refused to take the pandemic seriously. In the end, it became intolerable. It was also obvious that after just a few weeks under the same roof we had run out of things to say to each other. So I left and returned to my flat.

Robert and I remain good friends, but any spark that may have existed between us has long since been extinguished. Inevitably, he contracted Covid-19 shortly after I left and was quite ill for about a month. If it hadn’t been so serious I might have laughed, but he was very ill and it did change his view of the situation. He still resents lockdowns and seems to go out of his way to flout the rules, but he does keep his socialising to a small, select group. That I think is the best we can hope for there.

So I head forth into 2021 as a single, widowed, failed businesswoman in her middle age. When put that way it doesn’t sound very good, does it?

During the past year, we have seen so much change in the ways people work, socialise and live that it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember our pre-covid lives. There is little chance of things going back to exactly what they were. With so many of us embracing the technologies that have kept us together and allowed us to work throughout this tumultuous year, some permanent changes are inevitable.

We have been living through interesting times and think we will continue to do so for a while yet.