From mid March onwards, my phone pinged constantly with new Whats App messages. School, sports club and hobby group updates, friends and family checking in. A constant shared stream of communication which was a welcome distraction against a backdrop of increasingly depressing news and wall-to-wall pandemic coverage.
And there were the jokes.
Memes, videos, song parodies. Twitter responses to evolving events. Much of the humour was cathartic, tapping into the general Zeitgeist and downbeat mood, and in itself a coping mechanism.
The absurdities and anxieties of “Pandemic Living” have lent themselves almost-too-well to dark comedic observations which have both entertained and informed. These have provided a shared release and emotional connectivity at a time when the world felt like it was spinning out of control.
For my own part, I’ve collated a short list of my own favourite quotes & extracts from past and present literary greats which have helped to make sense of this strange period.
On Family Life
“We were together. I forget the rest.” – Walt Whitman
On Coping With Fear and Anxiety
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
On a Child’s Perspective
“‘Where are we going, Pooh?’ ‘Home, Piglet. We’re going home because that’s the best thing to do right now.’” – A.A. Milne
“If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.” – Seamus Heaney
“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.” – Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
On Working From Home (and Home Schooling)
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. Just call on me brother if you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on” – Bill Withers (unsurprisingly this song with its uplifting and pertinent lyrics has become an anthem for collective caring during the pandemic)
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson