Sequels are Never the Same

It felt harder this time. After having our freedom and waving our flag as the victorious underdog. Before we were thrust back into battle. We’ve been released again this week. Well sort of. But as our honourable pink haired microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says; “this is a tricky virus”.

The weather didn’t help. The onset of Auckland’s spring is usually punctuated with enough wind to wipe out the early blossoms, and frequent squalls to keep washing wet on the line. We’ve felt more isolated in our Auckland bubble too. We heard nothing but sympathy from our friends outside the Auckland border. Grateful for their show of support, all the while gazing longingly at their social media posts and their endless adventures.

To paraphrase our Prime Minister, “if it feels hard (this year), it’s because it is hard”. Just turn on the news. Farmers have dealt with drought. We’ve seen devastating floods in Northland after the drought and in other places too. The families shattered by the Christchurch terror attack have had to relive their terrifying experiences in court. Those brave testimonies will linger for a long time. But we now have a new legal precedent. We know how bad a crime has to be to mean life.

There’s been mysteries around this outbreak to ramp up that anxiety. The maintenance worker who caught the virus from a button, the long tail of spread to an innocent congregation of worshippers, even the source of the latest outbreak at an international cold storage facility. Science has become the new black. The sexy profession it never was. Hopefully the answers this time lie in science and a strong dose of detective work.

People are questioning the lockdowns. How much longer can we do this without devastating lives in so many other ways. How much longer can the world do it? Lots of people have lost their jobs. Businesses that cannot morph into something bold and new have folded away. Students sitting their senior qualifications are playing catch-up in a shortened academic year. And many in the most affected spots won’t return to school yet. Like the rest of the world, we find ourselves returning to routine, knowing the virus is still out there.

I went to yoga today. Socially distanced yoga is where it’s at. Breath as deeply as you can, contort yourself to your heart’s content without knocking elbows or toes with those around you. One person was wearing a mask. I cannot imagine a worse way to practice yoga. Another young woman wasn’t. Instead her head was bare. Lashes and eyebrows were missing. You can only assume she’s full of cancer killing chemicals that have wiped her hair from its follicles. She may have been the most vulnerable in that room and we all feel a duty of care.

We look to history for answers. The Spanish flu may have killed 1/3 of the global population in the post war glory days of 1918. We know for certain that the SS Talune left Auckland with the virus on board, infecting the Pacific and taking 22% of Samoa’s population in its deadly spread. This latest outbreak is particularly troubling for Pacifica people. Troubling too for people in overcrowded, poorly insulated houses with little money to put food on the table. This virus has shone a spotlight on things that already needed fixing.

So my hope, as Aucklanders flee this weekend to support the domestic economy, is that they stay safe, stay sensible, and ditch complacency, no matter how freshly groomed and abundant they find the snow. I hope that (figuratively at least) we wrap our arms around those who’re scared. Those who’re sick. And those on the front line caring for us all.

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