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Reframe adversity – Marion Nancarrow

Drama director and producer, living in Sheffield

When I was small and anxious about my father, who’d fought in Burma during World War II, he used to say that as the bullets parted his hair he’d think “Is this better than Redruth on a wet Saturday night?” And it nearly always was. Of course, this made us laugh, as he’d intended, but what a great life lesson in reframing adversity.  In seeing the good when things seem so bleak. The global deaths and sacrifices in this pandemic are incalculable. But at a micro level there seems to have been a sea-change, where my dreams of what a future world might hold have already taken flight:

Goats are ignoring traffic signs in Llandudno, Venice canals rejuvenate, people sing & play from balconies, orchestras form on Zoom, cards land on lonely neighbours’ doormats, food parcels materialise, dark streets echo with applause for the NHS, city dwellers breathe fresh air, free courses emerge, performances and lessons appear, the show goes on – online; a man dresses as Spiderman to entertain bored kids on his daily walk, people talk to each other, collaborative ways of working blossom overnight, the elderly lose their cloak of invisibility.

This isn’t the same as war, but perhaps the threat of death, a sense of something bigger than ourselves, has produced a kind of muscle memory of how we could live: more simply, with greater kindness, needing less, sharing more, richer in time, more connected. Remembering, when we need it, what the past has to offer us.

Who knows, at a macro level, next the UN Secretary General may call for a global ceasefire…..