Una Mullally: The exhilarated enlightenment of lockdown has almost evaporated

Rather than view 2020 as a ‘wasted’ year, we can see it as moment of communal pause

We need to create new forms of being, working, socialising and thriving. We know what the pandemic has taken but what has it given us? Photograph: Gareth Chaney

We need to create new forms of being, working, socialising and thriving. We know what the pandemic has taken but what has it given us? Photograph: Gareth Chaney

Six months on from Ireland’s first case of Covid-19, the country continues to reel from the physical, psychological, emotional and economic impacts of collectively dealing with a serious illness. People have lost loved ones, jobs, work, opportunities, planned celebrations and travels, and the sense of security that allows us to move forward, plan and imagine our futures. The hardship of negotiating lockdown – something people in Kildare continue to experience – gave way to a murkier, messier transition, a kind of Schrödinger’s cat version of society. There’s also a broader dread that we ain’t seen nothing yet. This holding pattern – perhaps more accurately described as an induced coma – is discombobulating.

To participate in Covid-era versions of the very normal things people do to let off steam, commune, catch up or engage in the therapeutic and entertaining power of live art or sport or socialising, theatre, concerts, pubs and clubs, parties and family gatherings, is almost an exercise in feeling bereft. What we’re left with are anaemic versions of what once was, a sort of edging around the periphery of what was previously so easy, accessible and fulfilling, and now feels unsatisfactory, awkward or diluted. It’s easy and fair to resent this – how the enjoyable aspects of life feel taken away from us, or distant, sometimes literally behind a screen, be that perspex or digital. 

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