WE’VE LEARNED TO SEE SMILES THROUGH EYES

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by AJ Place

I haven’t written anything for a while; my mind has dulled and my words, stuck on a loop, almost like it’s still March 2020.

We hardly go anywhere; we don’t see anyone for long stretches of time. Aged parents, a daughter and siblings exist in a parallel universe, on the other side of closed borders. Our small business, not surviving the fallout of unpredictable closed borders and restrictions. It’s just a big, fat, boring ‘whatever’ tale; there are many real stories of struggle out there. We’re no different to versions of this playing out nationally, globally, of families separated, a never-ending pandemic impacting our lives. But the truth is, we are different to many, we’ve had a lot to be grateful for.

Shock lays way back in March 2020, fear circles through winter and into spring a full year ago, hope came and went with summer and here we are now, with what? Exhaustion? Frustration? Relief?

What is there to write about? There’s a whole lot on a global scale. Too much. Kabul. Terror. Climate change. Unconscionable governments.

But here, in our tiny little pocket, it’s just a groundhog event of managing disappointment and acting like it’s all A-OK. As the old saying goes, a problem shared, is a problem doubled. Obviously, that’s not actually the saying, but it’s totally the 2021 vibe.

Not one to champion the upsides – ‘toxic positivity’ is a real thing, we have faced hurdles and dropped the ball, along the way, but we’ve been dealt a fortunate hand; able to work from home, earn a living, stay at home.

Many have not. Our lockdown experiences have all been very different. And it is essentially this, that has stopped me writing or throwing my voice into the ring. There’s been enough whingers from positions of varying privilege, some calling out for their ‘freedoms’, from their comfy homes. They’ve given me the shits. Freedoms, please. An asylum seeker, someone stuck in detention for years on end, knows what freedom truly is.

There’s been a whole lot of ‘self’ in this, rearing its ugly, entitled head. The ‘greater good,’ has struggled to keep on the front foot. You’re either for the protective measures that come with outbreaks, or you’re not. There’s barely middle ground. Peeps get nasty.

My head swirls through a roller coaster of worry each time the numbers reappear and rise. As an ex-healthcare worker, I sweat on the implications of those numbers. Will individuals, small businesses, support services, those vulnerable or at risk, teachers, kids, the healthcare system, cope with another round of restrictions and unwell people? Is there enough left in the engine for many? What can we do?

We focus on the small things, trying to manage in our lane; following local community groups on social media. Bite sized pieces. We see the goodness in many, the generosity, big, open hearts, often from those we suspect may have their own mountains. It makes us try a little harder; reach out, take action. Check in on our friends and family, keep perspective.

We keep our shopping local, experts in our contactless arrangements. Boot up and a wave is now our normal. It’s not even weird to shop like this. Lucky, bloody us, living in this community.

We try to dial the whinging down, when it ramps up and not think too much about the end of this. It’s a day by day proposition.


We’ve learned to see smiles through eyes, now our mouths are permanently covered.

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