There’s never before been a time when I could publish something online and have even the tiniest inkling that I know (some of) what everybody who reads it has experienced recently.

Not the details, obviously. I don’t for a moment assume that we’re all in the same boat. But in a very broad sense, I’m guessing we can all agree that so far, 2020 really has given us A LOT to deal with. A LOT to think about. A LOT to step up to. A LOT of everything.

I had a concussion at the end of 2019 and I have to say, that is NOT a good way to prepare for a pandemic. My N=1 study has proven that a concussion is, in fact, a very unhelpful thing to have happen right when you’re about to spend a whole lot more time than usual staring at a screen.

Global uncertainty, health anxiety, financial disruption, total change of daily routines and inaccessibility of all the little touchstones which keep life predictable? Sure, and I’ll add a foggy head to make things even more interesting!

Having said that, I’m mostly fine now and lots of things HAVE helped me in the past few months. The fact that my son – in a bid to outsmart boredom – developed a passion for baking: very helpful. New rituals, like indoor basketball shooting competitions – very helpful. Realising early on that I needed to go for walks by myself so as to be an ok companion to my lockdown buddies – super helpful. And this:

Not a sprint, and not a marathon

One simple concept has been on my mind over and over again. I heard it from someone who heard it from someone else, and they didn’t say where they got it – I wish I knew, as I’d love to acknowledge the source. In the great cosmic passing-on of potentially useful snippets, I’m sharing it with you.

During lockdown I noticed (particularly on social media) lots of people berating themselves for what they were, or weren’t doing. Wondering if they should be stepping up more, or if their ways of coping were ok. If other people were doing this better. Feeling guilty if others seemed to have it harder than them. Feeling depleted if the basics were taking everything out of them. Wondering where all their time was disappearing to – if they were working from home, or home schooling, or providing essential services, or supporting other people. Trying to figure out how to adjust to circumstances dramatically different to what they were used to. Or struggling to decide what to do with having more time (and less structure) on their hands.

And then I heard a few people saying “this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon” – which made some sense. There’s so much we don’t know about this pandemic, and it’s different everywhere…but conspiracy theories aside, it seems clear we’re in it for the long haul.

And then the thing I heard that was so helpful was this.

It’s not a sprint, or a marathon. It’s a relay.

Which, to me, was SO much more helpful. You can interpret that however you want. But what really spoke to me was that it allows us to see this as a team effort, while being compassionate towards ourselves (and others).

We don’t have to do all the things, all the time (in fact, we can’t).

There’s a time to take action and a time to rest.

A time to step up, and a time to pass the baton to others.

A time to take action, and a time to reflect.

It’s a tiny little phrase, and it’s helped me a lot. And right now, I’m grateful for the little things with big impacts. I hope it helps you too. And I’d love to hear what’s helped you through this wild ride of a year so far.


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