What a shining animal is man

How quickly life can change.  I’ve always known this about me, people, individuals.  At any moment any of us can be struck down by serious illness – half of us will get cancer – that can change our lives forever.   We can die suddenly in accidents, through no fault of our own, or of heart attacks and a distressing array of other catastrophic health events.

This doesn’t just apply to us, of course, it is true of all of those around us – the death or serious illness of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend can be devastating.  Then there’s all the other things in life unrelated to health around relationships, our work, where we live, how we spend our time that give our lives the stability we all need but can all change in an instant

When I think of these things I am always reminded of these lines from the beautiful Sonnet CLXXI by the great American lyrical poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay.

But what a shining animal is man,

Who knows, when pain subsides that is not that,

For worse than that must follow – yet we can write

Music, can laugh, play tennis, even plan.

Now with coronavirus we’re seeing how not just a life but how a world can change in an instant.  Despite my misgivings about how the outbreak is being dealt with globally there is no doubt it is changing millions of lives across the world.

Flimsy foundations

On an admittedly selfish, personal level, this year 2020, for me had all the potential to be one of my best, full of all the things I love most and the time to indulge them.  It’s one of the reasons I started to write this blog.

Now, in the UK we are advised not to socialise or go to restaurants, pubs and theatres and not to undertake any leisure-related travel.   

I’m in two minds whether I should be lunching with my daughters this week who respectively work in public-facing and a large office environments. I very much expect the holiday I’ve booked in mid-April to the south of Spain will now not take place and I expect the Saturday parkruns that are a big part of my weekend routine will be cancelled too.

I was looking forward to an exciting year of sport particularly Euro 2020, the Olympics and the big grand slam tennis tournaments including Roland Garros and Wimbledon look in doubt. Even my 60th birthday that I’m planning for the end of June I’m beginning to wonder about now.

I know, compared with what many are having to cope with these are trivial concerns and life goes on – I will still write, laugh, play tennis and even plan – but the pandemic is a reminder of just how flimsy the foundations of life really are.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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