The small stuff
Like many other people over the last week I drowned in the full cocktail - anxiety, panic, fear, anger, worry and then, after some genuine low points, some degree of acceptance followed by sporadic glimmers of hope.
I am horribly worried about members of my family; of friends working in our hospitals; and those friends that now have the virus. It has made writing about media and advertising feel like a futile task – a distant luxury from world we have so quickly been jettisoned from.
By Wednesday, while our brilliant events team scrambled to turn one of our largest global conferences into a virtual experience, I was still finding it difficult to concentrate. But later that day, as messages from colleagues began to arrive telling the team well done for dealing with the stress and pulling it off, I told myself that the following day I would not start by browsing through endless streams of outrage on Twitter. There is only so much a human brain can cope with before it is poisoned by such an incoherent jumble of anxious messages.
Instead, I began a recalibration of what was important at any given moment and asked myself what was brilliant about this industry and all the people that live and breathe it, and need it to pay their bills and feed their families – and who will all be feeling just like me.
The hideous brew of feelings did recede, but only with the true recognition that we – like family members or neighbours - are still a community that will need to rely on one another to get through this crisis. And we are more interconnected than perhaps any of us realise – personally, commercially and culturally.
As a small editorial team that had just made public the news of my own upcoming departure – a plan, like countless others, now thrown into disarray - we decided to seek out the positives as the week drew to a close. What were media organisations doing that was genuinely helping? What did altruism really look like? Where were there glimmers of hope and smart thinking that, if we shared them, might inspire further outbreaks of hope and smart thinking?
They do exist, and this hastily gathered list is surely only the tip of the iceberg. But for us, it was enough to end the week in a better place than when we started it, despite the fear we maintain for the future.
As I write this, on Friday morning looking at the blossom sprouting down my north London street, friends of mine are infected with the virus. It is, perhaps, in the post for many more. It feels surreal.
I am hesitant writing these words in the knowledge that I will soon be sending them to thousands of readers, not quite knowing what I’m saying. But perhaps it is just this: small things taken in isolation might appear futile when compared to the enormity of this global nightmare, but they still help, and in totality hold particular meaning.