Living with memories of yesterday’s pleasures and a fear of tomorrow’s dangers

Carmen Gomez

One minute I was looking at my parents and their friends, and wondering what it would be like to be as old as them; the next thing I knew, I was. Yet here we are, even more baffled by life than when we were small children, with our new found status; confined to barracks as soldiers in war time, and what’s worse, expecting to be on the front line! We find ourselves in this new found existence suddenly imposed on us for our good and that of our small nation; without the help of a vade mecum to guide us through our unchartered times.

It’s not easy to be told; sorry you can’t come out for an uncertain amount of time; because we don’t know what tricks our minds will play when on our own. For some of us, not having been in this position before, our imposed confinement might at first afford us a sense of comfort; to know that in the shelter of our homes we are safe from the tentacles of an unknown enemy that lurks out there waiting to get its hands on one.

Whinge and Woe

Those in our society wanting to show solidarity, find ways of doing this with a constant array of jokes coming at us from all sides via our 1phones, or social media; or with music being played from a concerned DJ wanting to comfort the neighbourhood; all intended to make sure that we do not decline into a catalogue for whinge and woe. When turning on the TV and witnessing quite the opposite, one realizes that the need for wit and pleasure are more the order of the day, if only tempered with the merest touch of melancholia.

The Government too apart from doing everything in their power to keep us safe and prepare Gibraltar for the worst scenario, are liaising with many groups of people and in unison with the many young volunteers who have come forward; to put together packages which will provide help for the community; entertainment for the very young and not so young, together with GBC TV.

Sana in corpore sano

The most important thing here is to maintain “Sana in corpore sano” i.e. “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” When faced with anxiety and challenge, we can either be consumed by fear and anxiety, or we can adapt. Build up your strength by doing simple exercises which will be good for our blood circulation and for our muscles. You can pretend to march on the spot and raise your arms up and down to keep yourself supple, and if you can’t stand for too long, you can also do them sitting down; by stretching your legs and moving them gently up and down; or and doing circles with your feet clockwise or anti-clockwise. All this for just a few minutes daily will make you feel invigorated.

As for ones mental health, in the middle of such possible stress as uncertainty breeds, we must find a way to overcome this and try and bring caring and positive action to those around us, or from beyond the screen. By this I mean with the use of an Ipad. Of course it’s not easy for us to have to accept something which supplants the warmth of a kiss or an embrace from your loved ones; but at least you can see them and talk to them. You know you are not alone. For those who don’t have this, there is always the phone which allows you as in days of old to hear familiar voices.

The government’s actions at present are revealing of the difficulties, emotional, intellectual, and psychological, inherent in developing any coherent philosophy of such a pandemic as the one we face. I believe that Government said they were preparing talk lines like those used for Childline. I recall that years ago Esther Rantzen set up an organisation which was called “silver line” which got together groups of people who would then call each other and keep in touch. I have been doing just that by calling friends I have not seen for a while, some of whom live alone to have a chat with them.

The day is coming

Returning to normal is not something we should expect to see for a while yet. We have been left in the cold without a map to show us how to cope in creating new customs amidst a pandemic; but create them we must. Sometimes it may feel like within our culture, we have no idea how to deal with inconvenience as a main result of a mass occurrence such as this. Perhaps when we get over what we call inconveniences; which compared to life and death situations are quite meaningless; we may arrive at a point of realizing that there are more important things in life and more necessary than having ones nails or hair done. All we have to do is look back in time and remember how our parents got on with life with very few of the modcoms we have today, and they managed just fine.

As we live with our memories of yesterdays pleasures, and a fear of tomorrows dangers; I steal two openiWng lines from the writer and poet William Morris; also known for his designs for stained glass wallpaper and other decorative arts which generated the Arts and Crafts movement in England and revolutionised Victorian taste; who wrote chants for socialist’s and I choose this poem, “The Day is Coming;” as an inspiration for us all.

“Come hither, lads, and hearken, for a tale there is to tell, of the wonderful days a-coming, when all shall be better than well.”