They say adversity reveals a man’s true colours. Looking back at the past two years, I can’t but agree. The great ordeal that we’re all set to leave behind has truly been a mirror to the soul. The only problem is the ugliness of what I see in it.
You could put it down to being caged like zoo animals, but reserves of sympathy plunged to an all time low during the lockdown years. With each of us at risk of running aground, the woes of others seldom came to mind. Practically everyone I know noticed an uptick in unpleasant incidents at home, or with neighbours, or at the workplace.
While I put myself down for a reasonably patient person, I can recall being far more irritable in the past year, than in years prior. Things that would never have annoyed me were suddenly insufferable. There was more than one incident where I behaved inconsiderately, or said something way out of line- all of which I later came to deeply regret.
Yet, the question remains- where exactly do we draw the line? These things are just a function of daily life, surely? Just the usual frictions of social contact. To try and hold yourself to account for them is then nothing more than an attempt to alleviate some vague, inexorable feeling of guilt. Rationalisation in hand, we’re then free to go about our lives, just as before.
Things that would never have annoyed me were suddenly insufferable
Perhaps it is easy to wax philosophical about the things that affect us. Especially when you’re a couple weeks behind on coursework, and are keen on finding a distraction. The trouble is that it’s even easier to use cynicism to soften the blow of unappetising realities, and to hide them behind a wall of pleasantries and polite fictions. There is no excuse for treating others badly.
Acknowledging this fact, and being honest about the world and ourselves, even when it doesn’t suit us, has been a cornerstone of this civilisation for centuries. It’s also an enormous relief. There’s suddenly air to breathe, and room to stretch out your arms. Hardened hearts become a little softer, and it’s easier to forgive, to seek forgiveness, and to make friends.
While it hasn’t gone perfectly, I’ve managed to rectify some wrongs. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. It’s far easier to make peace when everyone’s in good spirits. I’m sure it’ll make the coming weeks even sweeter than they promise to be.