You don’t look any different New Year 2022!

Lockdown and Covid have changed me forever.

For the past 10 years or so I have been keeping a similar routine. I'd get up in the morning, have a cup of tea, breakfast and get on with my day. My schedule would be all about spending time with people. It would be getting children ready for school or creche, chats with the coffee guy at my station, watching the bleary-eyed strangers on the train or the lovely woman who always graced the pavement past me on the street when I walked to work.  There’d then be the banter with work colleagues as we got on with the tasks at hand.

I used to like busy places like coffee shops or public spaces; I'd soak up the hustle and bustle of people, of life. People are always interesting. From the way they hold themselves to the sing-song of a voice in full conversation or the mad squeals of children playing, sublimely different. As the colours in autumn are the brightest before they fall, my memories of those times are gorgeous and lovely and fill my heart to brimming.

My work is no longer what it was, my family is ever-scarred, my community has been torn asunder and it is like we have been silenced as those connections have been stretched to breaking. And many of them are broken irredeemably. Even with the joy of Christmas to savour in these early days of new year, for me things are ever-changed. And while I consider the year ahead, it is with an un-easy calm. Living in this time is really lonely. And it is so darn frustrating waiting for 'it' to end.

I suppose one of the benefits of being stuck in one place has been the time I've managed to carve out for doing nice things. My ‘nice thing’ is reading. I've read and read. I've read books from completely different genres than I would have considered before. I've read favourite books time and time again. And I've returned to old familiars with a very different perspective. I've read Bell Hooks to reignite my fires, Bernadine Evaristo because she's beyond brilliant, the Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart to reconnect with my first love and all the while being swept away by the songs of that are way out of my demographic (Stormzy, Taylor Swift, Joni Mitchell).

I'm looking to this new year, to 2022, not with resolutions nor hard-set big plans. Like other people with MS, I've taken hits I don't speak about, but I have also started to doing things that I'd never have done before. These new things have made me healthier, stronger and more resilient. There are days when I think I would like to be my old self again but I know that she is forever lost in the routine of self-defence, masking, sanitising, PCR tests and the strain of one more day. But I'll read.

Wherever you are, whatever place you are 'at' and whatever your health status is, read. Read new books, books in different languages, books from other cultures, old books, books that will blow your mind, save your soul or cast you back to different times.

Whilst we’re all in the midst of these challenging times, it is in the stories and the revealing of other lives that we could very well find a time of freedom and peace. If only for a few minutes it is that peace that could very well save our day.

Wishing you & yours good health & peace for the days ahead.

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