The best of times, the worst of times: how good can possibly come of Covid-19 (eventually)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
So many of us are feeling that we are living in the worst of times right now. Every day more news piles in about infections, death, and the loss of a life that we once knew. This disease is creeping malevolently across borders, continents and the world. Medics and health workers are desperately trying to save lives. Scientists are racing to produce a vaccine. Children are missing their education, livelihoods are being lost and people are being buried without their loved ones.
I deliberated about writing this blog. I worried that this was not the time. People are inundated by messages of doom. My project interviewing 100 people going through career and life change seemed too parochial given our momentous upheavals. Wasn’t it just too small, too irrelevant? I put off writing it for days. Really, what was the point?
I spoke to my sister today and she said: “Well tell people that. But write the blog anyway. Even if it helps just one person, then it is of some use.” I thought about it. Perhaps it might help me, too. Just to write something, to do something. I have been feeling particularly useless in the eye of this storm.
Last week I spoke to Mark, one of my interviewees, who said: “This current crisis will change my life more dramatically than anything I have chosen to do.” And this from a man in his mid-Fifties who has had many twists and turns in his life, some designed and others out of his control; from launching a start-up which made millions, through to insolvency and losing his fortune.
Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus, whatever we call it. This thing we are living through will have a bigger impact than anything we have experienced since World War Two.
The quote at the start of this blog was from Charles Dickens. He wrote a Tale of Two Cities in 1859 about a French doctor, Doctor Manette, imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years, before he is set free to live in London. It’s just before the American and French revolutions — the Reign of Terror, or “la Terreur” in French.