Have people seen that work, even education, is not all that it used to be in our lives, that schools and offices, far from being rich social spaces, can be unnatural and, at times, quite dull, even toxic? When forced to re-evaluate what we thought gave our lives meaning - education and work - have we come to experience joy in other things? Not the endless drudge of classrooms, uniforms, courses and exams but joy and sometimes learning in real places, with real people and real life? Was the car, bus, or train commute anything at best a daily dose of discomfort, at worst a serious threat to your mental health? Did you miss dressing for work, banal offices, in modern parlance your ‘leaders’ at work? Have you eaten better not being at work, seen more of your family? Has the whole offline-online balance of work, learning, eating and entertainment changed? It’s all more blended.
We had time to breathe, literally and metaphorically. Perhaps experience more beauty, the pure blue sky with birds not planes, deliberately suck in fresh air in streets without traffic, feel the earth beneath your feet, listen more, walk more, talk more, think more, read more, sleep more, cook more, watch more great drama. Even drop the things and people who turned out to be not what you thought they were. If I were honest, I haven’t really missed restaurants, early morning trains to London, office meetings or the canyons of Canary Wharf. I’ve travelled further, not in distance, to places I’d never seen, that were nearer and turned out to be dearer to me.
Now that it’s all threatening to surge back, I have a sense of dread. Then I speak to people who’ve had similar experiences - little bits of transcendence. They’ve had time to lift their heads and see all of this busyness and business for what it is - the illusion of progress. Things have changed and they’ve changed for the better.