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Time well spent

So, here’s blog number two then. When I started this new journey down Blog Street a couple of weeks ago, I planned that I would maybe write one a month, time permitting. I thought I should be able squeeze something in between my normal copywriting and event work.

But in the space of less than a fortnight that spare time that I was hoping for has suddenly and unwantedly presented itself big-time. By the bucket-load.

All my events have been cancelled, many of my copywriting jobs are now on hold, and I have been unable to meet with the friends, colleagues and potential clients that I’d got penned into the diary. Oh yes… spare time is a-plenty.

Now I’m not, for one minute, going to start moaning or griping about my situation because I know I’m not alone. There are millions of self-employed people in this country in the same situation as me. And even for people who have a full-time job, the chances are they will have had hours cut, shifts cancelled or places of work put on lockdown. All we can do now – all of us – is hold our nerve, sit tight and wait for this thing to pass.

It’s going to be a tough ride, but it won’t all be doom and gloom. From a personal viewpoint, I still have some, limited copywriting in the diary. I have a road test report to write. The garden is getting a spring make-over and the shed has been painted. My paperwork and filing is up to date. I’m working on improving my website. I have registered for the Royal Voluntary Service to help the NHS through these difficult days, and I’m doing the shopping for an 82-year-old man who is worried about leaving his house.

From a broader standpoint, I’m cheered by what I am seeing and hearing. Walking around a much-quieter Co-op collecting my octogenarian friend’s ready meals, oranges and ice cream, I notice all around me other people doing the same. You can see from their shopping baskets that not everything they have there is for them. They are helping others. People nod and smile as they pass, two metres apart. Raising their eyebrows to the sky they ask: “How are you?” and add: “Strange old time isn’t it?”

They’re pleased to see others walking on a near-deserted High Street. They queue politely, waiting to be let in to the chemist’s, which only allows two in at a time. Walkers wave at cyclists, cyclists wave at motorists. Delivery drivers put a parcel on your doorstep, ring your bell and stand back and wait until you’ve answered to make sure you’ve got it.

Restaurants are cooking up spare food that would otherwise go off, and sending it to hospitals or care homes. Corporations are offering to help people who are worried about bills and mortgages. People are being nice to each other. They’re ringing the lonely and helping the old. They are embracing this temporary new way of life and want to help. We’re all pulling together. It’s so heartening. This must be what it was like during the War, with everyone fighting a crisis together and, in many ways, enjoying doing it.

There’s no such thing as great people – just ordinary people doing great things. And I have seen so many great things recently that I’m looking forward even more to the future. To the time when this is all over and people will remember how nice it was when we were all helping each other.

So I’m not worried about my career at the moment. I’m worried about my friends’ and family’s wellbeing. I’m not concerned about less money. I’m concerned about seeing less of my grandchildren during lockdown.

I don’t care about not finding any loo rolls in the shops. I do care about beating this horrible virus, and doing my part to achieve that.

Suddenly things have taken on a different importance. Things will change, I’m sure of it. It’s not going to be about who’s the best or the most successful any more. It’s going to be about appreciating the good things we already have.

Because people are learning that even though success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.