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Striking a balance
Written by Laura Hamilton, managing partner
21 March 2020
When the news is all doom and gloom—as it has been since the outbreak of the coronavirus— it’s hard for even the most optimistic among us to stay positive. It’s true that we need to take this virus seriously; sadly, we already know what it is capable of. But it’s important that, while staying informed to protect yourself and those around you, you also allow time to focus on your own happiness. This collection of articles encourages you to do just that.
It turns out it’s still possible to enjoy a mini break or visit a museum in Milan or Paris – just take a virtual tour. Culture is as accessible as ever; you just have to know where to look. You’ll most likely have seen the videos of crowds finding ways to enjoy music together, whether it be from their balcony or via social media, sharing in a sense of community spirit many thought long gone.
This is where technology comes in. It doesn’t seem too long ago that digital detoxes were the cultural trend du jour, with workers across the board shunning phones for a weekend off-the-grid and a taste of sweet nothingness. But this crisis is driving us to rely on technology more than ever, not just for work but for our family and social lives.
If the smartphone wasn’t already a central pillar of your being, it certainly is now. At a time like this, newsfeeds are necessarily being refreshed around the clock. Knowledge is power and, thanks to the internet, we’re able to access important information in real-time from the palm of our hand.
Still, it’s key to strike a balance. It is possible to reap the benefits of technologyand take time for yourself. One suggestion for doing this is to focus on your memories. Harness the huge chunks of experience still there in your head, intact and vivid, just waiting for you to revisit – give it a go. This weekend, I’m planning on taking a trip back to Borneo’s wildlife-rich rainforest, followed by a slightly less exotic walk through my local woods.
Social distancing could change our relationship with FaceTime
As public-health experts urge us to stay away from one another, video tech seems poised to take on a new cultural significance. Most people who work in offices around the globe are familiar with video calls, but we are beginning to have a whole new appreciation for technology in our home lives as we search for new ways to connect with family. While parents and teachers are trying to figure out how kids can learn from home, we should turn to them for lessons on getting the best out of video chat. I’ve already asked my 14-year-old niece to give my mother a tutorial, although it might be best to perfect her WhatsApp messaging skills before advancing to wild heights of video calling.
Read in The Atlantic
Cities in quarantine
Having been on lockdown for almost two weeks, ‘city living’ in Milan now looks rather different – but not necessarily for the worse. In the face of crushing tragedy, locals are finding remarkable and quintessentially Milanese ways to connect with their city. Their heroic efforts have included live streamed tour guides from the city’s galleries and museums, children’s books retold over new radio stations (both of which boast daily audiences in their thousands, by the way), and even that simple act of sharing an espresso and natter with your neighbours over the apartment balcony. As cities across the globe brace themselves for Milan-scale shutdown, we could do worse than follow the creative responses of its citizens.
Listen to The Urbanist by Monocle
How to travel from your sofa
The French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal jotted down one of the most counterintuitive aphorisms of all time: “the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room.”
Being confined at home gives us a range of curious benefits. The first is the inexplicable freedom to think. Another is the ability to return to travels we have already taken. Regular immersion in our memories could be a critical part of what sustains and consoles us — and, not least, is perhaps the cheapest and most flexible form of entertainment. So, don’t underestimate the power of your mind. After all, you need neither money nor technology to access it.
Read in the Financial Times
India scrambles to escape a Coronavirus crisis. So far, it’s working
It’s a bit of a mystery how the world’s second most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, has remained relatively unscathed while the number of coronavirus cases explodes to its east and west. It could be that India responded quickly and aggressively; it was one of the first nations to essentially shut its borders. Or it might be that the demographics work to India’s advantage, with a young population compared with the worst-hit countries – namely, Italy and Spain. There are perhaps lessons to be learned then, as we embark on the next stage of social distancing here in the UK.
Read in The New York Times
As countries go on lockdown, nature goes wild
As people around the globe are limiting their interaction with others, mother nature is here to comfort us. Given some space from relentless human intervention, nature is re-emerging at incredible speed in unexpected places.
In northern Italy, which was one of the first European regions to go on lockdown, traffic has largely come to a standstill. In cities such as Trieste and Venice, transport by waterways has stopped. And now, reports show that the number of dolphins sighted has increased in the harbours of Cagliari, Trieste and Koper. In Venice, without the hustle and bustle of gondolas cruising through its canals, the water has never been clearer. Reports from the local newspaper show how locals are seeing fish returning to Venice canals. It’s scant and anecdotal evidence so far but could be an interesting trend to watch.
Read and share at the European Wilderness Society
On what might have been the last day of the school year, my nephew’s primary five teacher sent him home yesterday with a lovely poem. It helps explain to children what’s going on right now in words that don’t encourage fear or panic.
Unfortunately we don’t know the author and can’t find it hosted online anywhere, but here it is for you to enjoy nonetheless.
The Time We Spring-Cleaned the World
The world it got so busy,
There were people all around.
They left their germs behind them;
In the air and on the ground.
These germs grew bigger and stronger.
They wanted to come and stay.
They didn’t want to hurt anyone –
They just really wanted to play.
Sometimes they tried to hold your hand,
Or tickled your throat or your nose.
They could make you cough and sneeze
And make your face as red as a rose.
And so these germs took over.
They started to make people ill,
And with every cough we coughed
More and more germs would spill.
All the queens and kings had a meeting.
“It’s time to clean the world up!” they said.
And so they had to close lots of fun stuff,
Just so these germs couldn’t spread.
We couldn’t go to cinemas
Or restaurants for our tea.
There was no football or parties,
The world got as quiet as can be.
The kids stopped going to school,
The mums and dads went to work less.
Then a great, big, giant scrubbing brush
Cleaned the sky and the sea and the mess!
Dads started teaching the sums,
Big brothers played with us more,
Mums were in charge of homework
And we read and played jigsaws galore!
The whole world was washing their hands
And building super toilet roll forts!
Outside was quiet and peaceful,
Now home was the place for all sports.
So we played in the world that was home
And our days filled up with fun and love,
And the germs they grew smaller and smaller
And the sun watched from up above.
Then one morning the sun woke up early,
She smiled and stretched her beams wide.
The world had been fully spring cleaned,
It was time to go back outside!
We opened our doors oh so slowly
And breathed in the clean and fresh air.
We promised that forever and always
Of this beautiful world we’d take care.