Bit of a departure from the mountain theme this week. I won’t do it too often, I promise 😀.
So here we go again. Covid cases rising, the threat of more lockdown measures and the prospect of a winter of uncertainty. I could make a lot of negative comments about the incompetence of those paid to lead us, but I won’t. It’s not in my nature and I’m not sure I would know what to do in their position either.
What I do know is what I see around me on an everyday basis. As an accountant in a small town in North East England I have the privilege of being trusted with the life stories of clients from all walks of life. I hear how the last 6 months has taken its toll on them and their families and I see the uncertainty and worry in their faces.
The worst pain is not the economic pain. Yes, there have been job losses and yes, businesses have closed. No doubt more will follow. The government has done a good job so far in providing financial support, albeit with the inevitable winners and losers, with the result that so far I am yet to see any real financial hardship. That may change over the next few months and years because no doubt the repercussions of this crisis will be felt for years to come.
As an accountant it is always assumed that I am only interested in the financial aspect of people’s lives. I went into accountancy because I am interested in people as well as being good with numbers. Behind every set of accounts is a person or a group of people and they are all different and all interesting in their own right.
The pain that I see is that arising from uncertainty, from fear and from social isolation. We are social animals. Even the most introverted amongst us craves that emotional connection with another human being even if we are reluctant to admit it. We communicate frantically via Zoom and WhatsApp but I know the best thing I could do for a lot of my clients is to give them a hug. At my daughter’s school they are given a demerit if they hug each other. How have we come to this?
The health of my clients is suffering. I have seen an increase in clients suffering from depression and stress which is inevitable, but also an increase in heart problems and unknown illnesses, probably caused by stress and burn out. I know myself that the months of homeschooling and running a business has taken its toll and I have to consciously resist reaching for the whisky every night.
There is a fear of Covid. Not necessarily of catching it themselves, but of passing it onto the elderly and the vulnerable in society. Most of my clients are keen to do the right thing, even if they are often unclear as to what that might be. There is without doubt a lack of understanding of the risks involved in various behaviours, at no fault of the individual, more due to the bewildering amount of contradictory information available.
There is a feeling of powerlessness. Decisions are being made by central government that affect our day to day lives and how we see our family and friends. Clients are upset that they cannot meet elderly parents or adult children or siblings. Other clients make their own rules up and carry on regardless. I have learned not to judge, only to support and be positive.
The uncertainty continues. Will we have a vaccine next Spring? Will we see our families at Christmas? Will our lives continue like this indefinitely? I have faith in the human race, although it is being sorely tested at the moment. We will all individually find our own ways of coping and we will adapt, as we always have done over the centuries. At some point we will realise that a safe life wrapped in cotton wool is no life and that the meaning of being human is to interact with each other, preferably face to face. Until then, we need to keep going, despite the pain, and to be kind to each other.