The way ahead

There are many times when the way ahead is clear. Those are often times when things around us are tangled, and we long for the clarity of the outcome. The outcome might be the present war ending, the present illness resolving, the pandemic retreating or the political crisis calming down. We know what we don’t want, the troubled present moment, so our aim and our ambition takes on a clarity in reaction to that. Peace, health, stability, solvency — however the desired future presents itself.

When our daughter Jo was a small child, she had lots of illness, and we remember a day when she just wanted to sleep her way through it. “Can’t you sleep all the time?” she questioned. “Well, you could” her mother replied briskly, “But there wouldn’t be much point in being alive, would there?” And we saw on the face of an intelligent toddler the beginning of the great question in all our lives — what’s it for!

When there is something to fight against it is easier to know what the fight is for. We want that golden future. Many will work for it in whatever way they interpret the means — politically, medically, socially and so on. Others find in themselves no way to bring it about except by hope, by prayer, by idealisation. Some extremists think that the present is valueless and pin everything on the future.

Where are we now? We have had eighteen months of great difficulties, collectively, individually, socially, financially — whichever angle you look from at this year and the last. And with no clear idea of what the “outcome” — the release — the VE Day of our century, would be like. God knows we have been told enough contradictory ‘facts’. In recent times we have had several dates bruited as Freedom Day. Well, is this it? Are we there? Is this what it is always going to be like? No one can really tell us, or themselves.

I have tried throughout to implement a simple philosophy — if you and your loved ones are alive and have no reason to believe you are infected, then that is success, that is surviving, that is getting through. (Especially as my profile, for age and various vulnerabilities, didn’t look too good. Also Jo worked in a care home during the first period of the pandemic when care homes were a raging controversy.) Keep on keeping on.

There comes a time, of course, when you find that is ceasing to be enough. When, double-jabbed, you take your covid safety for granted — often as I tell myself I have no business to. When you look at the negative aspects of the last year and a half, and survival alone begins to seem minimal.

I have no conclusion to write to any of these thoughts. Only questions. The way ahead, I said. Are our feet firmly planted on it? We all need hope in our lives. Perhaps a balance between hoping and asking the questions is the way ahead.

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Roger Sansom

Roger is an actor, and lives with his family in Greater London