A new lease on life - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Last week the Blyth post office received a long overdue facelift, complete with new boxes and a renovated front desk. And as I walked in, following a straight line from the front door forward to where my box used to be, perfectly centred from the ceiling to the floor at waist level, I found, much to my horror, that the box was no longer there. It is now in a corner where it opens into the corner into another box that opens into the corner (kind of like the opening credits for Laverne & Shirley), making it nearly impossible to fit my massive dad hands into it to retrieve my mail.
“Hey, Loughlin,” you might be saying, “it’s just a mailbox. Get a life you whiny dirtbag.” And you’d be right, it is just a mailbox, but it got me thinking about the simple things we take for granted in this life of ours.
Citizen founder Keith Roulston has been known to quote Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” in his column and its iconic message of, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Now, with my poorly-designed box location, I yearn for the days of easily reaching in and coming out with my mail, especially in the days of COVID-19 and our quest to limit touchpoints.
Also this week, I spoke with Peter Smith for a story on this November’s virtual Rural Talks to Rural conference. He said so many of life’s simple pleasures, many of which are primal in nature, like hugs between loved ones and or sharing a meal, have been stolen by the pandemic. When we have a vaccine and can safely return to our normal lives, we will likely not fail to wholly appreciate those moments we had, for so long, taken for granted.
Last week, COVID-19 claimed its one millionth life. Perhaps when we get to the other side of this pandemic, we’ll have a lust for life we never had before. Like those who lived through the Great Depression, World Wars I or II or who fled civil unrest abroad for a better life – not to be overly dramatic – this pandemic could offer us a new perspective.
Many of us, frankly, have had it easy here in Canada. That’s not to say, of course, that we haven’t experienced hardship. There will always be disease, crime, financial pressures, climate change and many daily struggles, but most Canadians born after 1945 would say they have been spared from major tragedies here like war, famine, widespread disease or limited access to medical services or medicine.
This pandemic has changed that. Things we long took for granted have become foreign concepts for us. For those of us with family and friends in large city centres, we’ve lost the ability to hug, kiss or spend time in close quarters together. This has been especially hard in our family when all people want to do is hold our new daughter Tallulah. But, with her developing immune system, we have to be so very careful, so the number of people who have held her can be counted on one hand. This is time we’ll never get back and it breaks our hearts, but our first responsibility as parents is to keep her safe.
Whether it’s dinner with a loved one at a fantastic restaurant, attending a wedding or a funeral or hugging your mom or holding your granddaughter, the worldwide pandemic has taken these things from us for now. When we can again do these things safely and without putting one another in danger, we should endeavour to enjoy them more, understand their importance and know they won’t always be there for us.
COVID-19 has shown us the fleeting nature of some of our most beloved experiences, we need to start appreciating them accordingly.