• Eve Arnold

The Good out of the Bad

Right now it’s pretty bad. One click on the BBC News and it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed by what is going on in the world. Fear, concern and action has swept the nation. This virus has effected most of the UK in some way or another and it’s all a little bit, well, unbelievable really. There’s no other word that really does this situation justice. Last week I genuinely thought I was living in a movie. The day before yesterday I went to the shop and gone were the smiles and warmth that people had just going about their day in their place were face masks, gloves and a lot of apprehension. It is a scary time for everyone.

In three years time, I am sure we’ll look back and this and say to our friends “bluddy hell do you remember that time where the world stopped because of coronavirus?!”.

But for right now, in this moment, in these days… it feels scary. However, in times of crisis it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with panic and sometimes it can be really hard to rationalise what’s going on and just get some sense of order.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, there is always room for some good stuff. Whether it’s hard to see it or it’s glaringly obvious, I believe whole-heartedly that good comes out of bad. It’s called collateral beauty. The movie starring Will Smith shows us this in fiction, his daughter dies and he cannot see anything good in life anymore, until he starts to. But in fact, in real life, there are examples of good coming out of bad all the time. Like the overwhelming sense of care and gratitude for everyone in this country that supports the vital systems that make our country work. Teachers, people collecting bins, NHS workers, volunteers, the police force (thank you). Like the extra time we get to spend with the people we live with, gone are the morning commutes for most of us, which means more time to spend with our loved ones.

Time of change can be a time where we reflect and create some amazing things. One story that I think is worth sharing is the one of Isaac Newton’s. During the summer of 1665 to spring 1667, the bubonic plague or the Great Plague as it was known, Newton was in Cambridge but moved to the countryside to try and get away from the chaos. And it’s really not too dissimilar from the situation we find ourselves in now. Okay the disease is different but the circumstances and the feel of things are quite the same. Long story short, Newton had the space and time to ask himself ‘how does the Universe work?’. A pretty huge question, and I’m not sure I’d start with apples falling off trees for that one but anyway. History tells us that he watched an apple fall from a tree and ask himself why did it fall straight down. What was pulling it to the Earth and why was that a straight descent? Newton theorised that everything in existence is attracted to everything else.

It’s pretty incredible that through an awful time some good stuff happened. Well, saying good stuff is probably doing Newton a disservice, he invented the formula for gravity… which is well you know pretty cool.

Innovation is happening at a wicked rate if we chose to look. There are some quite spectacular things taking root right now, from Dyson’s ventilator to Gymshark helping PTs do online sessions to Joe Wicks PE lessons. How many kids will be inspired to do more exercise because of this crisis, how many PTs will get time to impress some influential people in Gymshark and that might lead to some great job opportunities? How will ventilator technology change over the coming months that could save countless lives in the future? How many people will wake up and realise they don’t like the job they are in or the place they live and this is the kick they needed to move and go pursue more fulfilling roles or places for them.

I think, for a good few of us, this give us time. Which is often what people say you can’t get more of but this outbreak has given us the one miracle we all wish for more of. And that is time. How we use that will of course be interesting, I can’t think of a better way to use time to think about what a happy life is for you and how you can curate in your life to mean you are doing it that fills your soul and not just your pockets.

There are more examples of this across the world but I think it’s really interesting to reflect on this point. How we choose to view the world is up to us. How we chose to spend our time is up to us. How we choose to live our lives is up to us. This situation we all currently face is a stark reminder of how short our lives are.

But more than anything, whilst it feels horrible and there are some truly horrible things going on in the world, there are some truly wonderful things going on as well. And that’s the collateral beauty.

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