So this is it. Summer is over. Actually, this fool year’s weird summer is over. Did it feel a non-summer for you too? But I am sad, nonetheless.
As a heavily sun-dependent soul, autumn is a real pain for me. Just to give you a flavour of my uneasiness, I start feeling gloomy in early August.
This year’s moodiness was even worse for the memories of the late winter and spring craziness still vivid in my mind, AND fears of a fall second wave – God forbid!
But “it is what it is”, right? Not really. And I feel somewhat lost in uncertainty and despair. So much so that I had planned a different post for my September “rentrée”, but I changed my mind on the fly. (No worries though, you will get it next week!)
That is because of a bunch of mixed feelings I couldn’t put my finger on. And as it is always the case, I had to write my thoughts down to make them clearer and easier for me to process.
Here are some harsh truths this strange summer gave me.
Take nothing for granted
In July I met my family and friends after 7 months of self-isolation. The last time we gathered, we were celebrating the New Year (what a huge mistake in retrospect!), and then I was wearing flip-flops.
Holiday, warmth, and family love didn’t make me immediately realise how being alone for so long had scarred me. But when I came back to Brussels – my beloved city, my home, my everything – loneliness hit me so badly I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.
How was it? I have always been fine on my own. I still do. And I don’t regret moving abroad or anything, even though that has made my “loneliness levels” spike. What then?
I felt miserable because I had no clue of when I could see them again.
No matter what governments and tour operators say, travelling is no longer the same. If you happened to fly or catch an international train in the last 3 months, you know what I am referring to.
But worse than travelling conditions per se, what if cases surge in my destination or departure country? What if borders get closed overnight? What if I can’t come back or need to self-isolate for 14 days after travel? What if I can’t leave in the first place? WTF?
All this mess taught me the roughest of lessons: never ever take anything for granted. Be it freedom of movement or civil rights. You never know what may happen, when it may happen, and how it may affect your life.
Be grateful for what you have – especially if that is privilege
I know what I have just said. Travelling this summer was a pain.
But I was one of the lucky ones who could afford a summer vacation after all.
And I could travel back home because intra-European borders were open.
And I didn’t get infected nor infected anyone while doing it because European governments set out stringent rules that people duly followed – on average.
And I could distance-hug family members and friends who were all alive and in good health.
And even though one of my loved ones or I got sick – knock on wood – we would have got free and high-quality healthcare.
And I feel extremely grateful for that.
The world isn’t crashing down
“The planet will survive no matter what. Life will continue with us or without us. […]It’s not about saving the planet; it’s about saving the human race.”
This 2-minute video by best-seller author Simon Sinek was an eye-opener. I had never considered the climate crisis from this perspective.
We are in danger, not the planet. Global warming, rising sea levels, unknown viruses,… that’s about us. The planet doesn’t care whether we inhabit it or not and under what conditions. We do.
The planet will “survive”, one way or another. We can’t be as confident about humans, though.
We need to take responsibility for that. And we need to do it quickly.
…but that’s not a valid reason to keep polluting like crazy
Okay, the planet will find its way to reach a new equilibrium. But the amount of trashed face masks I have seen bordering the streets in the last months is outrageous. Is it that difficult to use bins?
Since the outbreak, humans have entirely given up on environmental issues, Fridays For Future, and whatever pollution-reducing resolution they might have been previously committed to.
The pandemic has made private vehicles more popular as people consider them safer: bikes, cars, electric scooters, cars, cars, cars,… Have I already mentioned cars? And I am not referring to the few electric (Tesla) car owners.
The consumption of plastic and paper has ballooned. As well as the amount of waste.
Now, I am not Greta Thunberg, and I am guilty of wastefulness too. But I believe everyone has a role in the fight against climate change. And everyone can and must do their part.
We don’t need to revolutionise our lives. Sometimes it requires just a few minor adjustments. Let’s keep a closer eye on our consumption and waste habits and try to reduce our personal carbon footprints. Shall we?
We didn’t make it through and come out better
This point very much relates to the previous one. During lockdown, I heard, read, and even thought we might come out “better” from this mess. I believed it for some time: more aware, more caring, more respectful. None of that materialised.
I may sound cynical and disheartening here. Well, I am. Many people behave as nothing happened. Was a 3-month lockdown merely mass hysteria?
Some reject the pandemic altogether. Others claim it is over and urge the world to stop this madness once and for all. Others yet are unconcerned because “young and healthy” and “would certainly recover” if they ever were to get infected.
I can’t speak for others, but that’s not exactly the idea of “coming out better” I had in mind in March.
Less is more
What a cliché. But still.
I won’t go long on superficial considerations about capitalism and its devilish consequences.
Let’s consider this. What makes you happy? What do you care about the most? What does really matter in your life?
Hint: you don’t need to be a superhero, nor to throw away all your belongings.
And if you have read this far, you should easily guess my answers by now.
Health, love, and freedom – of any kind.
How did you spend your “pandemic summer”? Did you reach any life-changing conclusion during this strange period? Anything you would like to share? Leave a comment down below!