Back to Normal!?

It is said the only 9% of Brits would life to return to ‘normal’ once lockdown is over. This has caused others and me to address the elephant in the room…just what is this normal they want to return to and is that not impossible in light of everything that has, is and will happen over the next few weeks?

I feel the impact of the coronavirus, covid-19, will impact on life much the same as the end of World War 1 (WW1) and Spanish Flu changed life at that time. We are not fighting our neighbours or another country, but something that might very small, yet to some is potentially fatal across the world. Six million men were mobilised during WW1, and of those just over 700,000 were killed. That’s around 11.5%. In fact, as a British soldier you were more likely to die during the Crimean War (1853-56) than in WW1. Those that returned were forever changed by their experiences, with what today we would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The frontline may have changed, where the soldiers have been replaced with medics in hospitals, but it is still a war, which is far from over.

For every day people, unemployment will rear its ugly head, and economies of countries will drop, as the price of living will increase, making the poorest around the world struggle even more than before. Equally, our routines of meeting up with friends and family to shopping at the supermarkets will continue to have to be restricted. The virus will still be around, and we will need to be diligent as it has and will mutate making it harder to deal with. Vaccines will not be developed overnight, proper trials will need to be done before they can be given to the public, there cannot be and should not be any shortcuts to this.

Time at home, especially those not used to it, with restrictions on what we can and cannot do will change how we are now and in the future. Some saying how this experience has increased mental health awareness, but has it? Mental health is so much more than depression and anxiety, although the experience may make people more understanding of how others feel that do. With too much time on our hands we are liable to overthink; for example, the little things about partners we love and hate amplified like never before, questioning just who the person is, and the what if’s that will go round and round in circles in our heads as try make sense of a situation that there is little sense to be made of.

So how can we return to the world we knew before lockdown? That world does not exist, for the changes keep happening, which for many with autism spectrum disorders in particular is hard to cope with. It is said ‘we are in this together’, but are we? How we are and will have experienced it, as with any experience be differently unique to us. Normal is used to describe something that actually never existed, and will not exist in the future. For example for many in Britain being married with two kids, a house, car and dog is one way to live life, but calling it normal to me is wrong, as there are many ways to live life. Even in the 41+ years I have been alive it has changed, take gay marriage that for many now is accepted, but twenty years ago it was still hard to acknowledge one had feelings with someone of the same gender. Personally, I find it harder for people to accept I am asexual, and what that means than if I had come out as gay.

I’ll finish with the words a friend once used to say to me – ‘normal is a function on a washing machine’. We are not artificial machines, we are the sum of our genes, environment and experiences, and normal is just being ourselves not collectively. So I personally won’t be going back to my old ways, as this experience is teaching me more about myself each day.

Stay safe and at home, but if out there doing your bit, thank you.

© Fi S. J. Brown

A Centenary to Never Forget

An autumn breeze gently blows over Flanders Field
Poppies stand to attention in red
An autumn breeze gently blows over Flanders Field
One hundred years since they fell

All silent now from their guns and youthful screams
Poppies stand to attention in red
All silent now from their guns and youthful screams
One hundred years since they fell

Some returned only to experience daily repeats in mind
Poppies stand to attention in red
Some returned only to experience daily repeats in mind
One hundred years since they fell

And innocent nameless bystanders now but whispers
Poppies stand to attention in red
And innocent nameless bystanders now but whispers
One hundred years since they fell

That lead to a bloody pointless and unnecessary sequel
Poppies stand to attention in red
That lead to a bloody pointless and unnecessary sequel
One hundred years since they fell

And a dark song can be heard on across the world
Poppies stand to attention in red
And a dark song can be heard on across the world
One hundred years since they fell

But imagining peace’s white bells tolling with light
Poppies stand to attention in red
But imagining peace’s white bells tolling with light
One hundred years since they fell

Finally learning the lessons that time keeps repeating
Poppies stand to attention in red
Finally learning the lessons that time keeps repeating
One hundred years since they fell

© Fi S. J. Brown

Remembering and never forgetting

Today marks 100 years since the start of one war that humanity will never forget. I shut my eyes to try to imagine what these people did in the name of freedom for their countries: I immediately become deafened by the gunfire, falling over the lifeless bodies of sacrifice to an almost undeserving god, a loss of innocence on all sides, and memories no one that survived the battles would ever forget as scarred in their minds forever. A century on, the red rain continues to pour in every corner of the world. There is no way to shelter from it for once it starts, as is like monsoon season. Tears fall in fear, empathy, and sadness from all over the world as we do not know how to help. Sadly, many do not want to know now as too depressing, preferring their scripted soap operas or reality TV, which are exaggerations of every day life and an escapism from the real world.

Twenty years ago I wondered after the first Gulf War and the breakdown of Yugoslavia if there would ever be peace in my lifetime. Instinctively I knew there would not be as saw people bully me for the silliest of things day in and out, multiplying that up at a country level I sensed only more pain to come. Today I am not a dreamer, I am a realist, accepting what I could sense then. I cannot dream of a peaceful world when I see people everyday not accepting difference in another from gender, race, religion, sexuality and ability. Is it human nature to do so or do we let an arbitrary box dictate how to treat another person? As children we accept someone for who they are, maybe this is another thing we need to learn from them to keep us grounded in what matters.

© Fi S. J. Brown