The Pandemic, One Year On: 30 Short Essays

A series of reflections on life and living, one year into the Covid-19 pandemic

Pandemic essay: Shay Healy
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20. Shay Healy and how the end of life's journey might not be the end of everything

Shay Healy died last week. For those of you outside Ireland, the name will probably mean little. But for many people within Ireland, especially for those above, say, 45 years of age, Shay Healy will conjure up a variety of thoughts and feelings…
Pandemic essays: The problem of loneliness
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19. The problem of loneliness

Around the world, there are signs that things are beginning to open up. After a year of Covid-19, the virus and attendant disease has not gone away, there have been significant vaccine challenges -- from manufacturing and distribution to potentially…
Pandemic essay: Our private information war: The blurred line between ignorance and informed
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18. Our private information war: The blurred line between ignorance and informed

In my day job, helping businesses to navigate the often murky waters and choppy seas of communicating and marketing on the Internet, I pay close attention to a gentleman called Avinash Kaushik. He's worked for Google for a long time and he…
Pandemic essays: The saving grace of plants
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17. The saving grace of plants

A thesis has been developing in my mind this past year or more, first taking shape as time slowed down so much for so many of us in the early stages of the pandemic. Later, as the external world inevitably started to speed up again, this…
Questions of travel: Journeys of the body, journeys of the mind
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16: Questions of Travel: Journeys of the Body, Journeys of the Mind

One of my favourite writers, Bill Bryson, has a thought-provoking passage near the beginning of his book about Australia, Down Under, published in 2000. Through the technological miracles of television and commercial travel, Australia seems…
Pandemic essays: Finding ease in unnerving worries and infinite possibilities
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15. Finding ease in our future of unnerving worries and infinite possibilities

Listening to a recent episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast, the extent of the Internet's impact on the way we do everything became a tiny bit clearer. As all of us who do anything know well by now, the impact of networked technology -- the…
Pandemic essay: Overcoming obstacles
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14. Seeing past, or through, the daunting obstacles before us

Obstacles are everywhere. The ways of doing anything -- from making civic change happen, to launching a successful business, to the age-old and private task of knowing oneself -- rarely come without frequent frustrations and occasional furies. This…
Pandemic essay: Choosing love in a world of fear
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13. Choosing love in a world of fear

In number 12 of this series, I included a line from Camilla Cavenish, the author, Harvard fellow and FT columnist: "When polls show support for continued restrictions, thoughtful MPs should ask themselves how exactly a nation became so fearful." She…
Post lockdown freedom
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12. The complex return to the thing we used to call freedom

Two passages I read at the weekend spoke about a similar thing in different ways, from different points in time, and from greatly different points of view. I've been dipping into The Sovereign Individual, a complex, thought-provoking,…
Pandemic essays - On missing togetherness
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11. On missing togetherness

Krista Tippett is the founder of On Being, which started out as a radio show inside the American Public Media organisation in 2003, and later morphed into a much wider project that considers, and invites us to consider, questions of being in…
benefits and cost of lockdown
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10. The benefits and the unknown cost of lockdown

Earlier this week I wrote about the difficulty of truth in a world where trust in all institutions is collapsing. In this environment it's easier for malign forces to stir the pot. Many of us learned at school that "nature abhors a vacuum"…
What is true?
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9. The difficulty of truth

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, I've grappled with a daily battle to find out what's true. It's been a series of recurring battles, and I've lost on a lot more days than I've won. "What is true?" is one of the biggest questions…
Pandemic essays: The redeeming power of poetry
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8. The redeeming power of poetry

When things get difficult, I look to books for reassurance. On my weaker days, I might chastise myself -- or, more accurate maybe, the voice in my ear chastises me -- for indulging in escapism when I should be concerned not about books but about…
Pandemic essays: The fear of the fear of dying
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 7. The fear of the fear of dying

A few days ago, in one of the first pieces in this series ("Becoming re-acquainted with death"), I wrote that I was no longer afraid of death. For years I feared death. It was a constant presence for me, a low-level anxious hum that accompanied…
Pandemic essays: Guilty blessed relief of lockdown
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The Pandemic, One Year On: 6: The guilty, blessed relief of lockdown

When you cast your mind back to the beginning of the global pandemic in the northern hemisphere spring of 2020, what are the things you remember? Fear seems to have no real place in memory. We do not easily remember the fears of the past.…

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