• Ollie Roffey - The MA

An Earthquake of Our Minds: The Effects of Covid-19

In the last few weeks I’ve been back in the UK for the first time for two years – before that, like many, I’ve been isolated from family by the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst it has been really refreshing seeing old friends and family again it hasn’t been the tonic I expected to completely erase the stresses and strains of Covid-19. I’ve been trying to work through my thoughts with those close to me and it dawned on me – The Covid Pandemic has been like an earthquake, there's a lot to deal with in the aftermath. Emerging from Covid will be one of stages just like a city emerging from a major seismic event.

PHASE ONE: The Earthquake

If we equate our thoughts, values, hobbies, connections and physical location to buildings in a city then then the major tectonic shift that is Covid has decimated, damaged or altered many of these “buildings”.

PHASE TWO: Aftershocks

As we look back across the landscape of our mind – there are still some minor aftershocks but we’ve survived the “main event” BUT the city doesn’t suddenly go back to normal, many of the buildings lay in ruins or aren't able to open quite how they did before, the people in the city (neural connections) aren’t quite sure what to make of it all.

We have a blueprint for the city we used to have and in many ways we think, let’s just re-build that, that’s easiest, right?

PHASE THREE: Assessing the Damage and Processing

Wrong! The truth is as we assess the damage we realise we may not want the city to look quite like it did before. The sheer scale of the earthquake has altered how we view the world and our place within it. It has thrown down, for all to see, the true fragility of life and helped us identify what truly matters.

Making sense of all that is no mean feat and it takes time to process, to sift through the rubble.

Our city needs to take stock and slowly build a plan for how we want the new city to look.

PHASE FOUR: Planning for the Future

The next step is an architectural or town-planning one – re-building a city that is a little different to the one that stood before, many parts that we recognise and want to keep but a lot that we want to change. Do we want to make more time for ourslves? Do we want to commute again? Do we want to be closer to family? Do we want to work from home? Am I even in the right profession?

These phases we are in our difficult to manage, we are in flux, we feel like we should be “ok” because the quake has passed but damage takes time to heal and mend.

I have felt very lost in the last few months and, honestly, throughout most of Covid butevolving metaphor has helped give me some understanding of where I am at.. It’s a challenging time but I have a chance to re-build something more beautiful, more resilient, more “me” – the next steps will be hard but in a year or more we’ll look back down on the city we’ve re-built and we’ll realise that the earthquake was an opportunity to re-align, a chance to re-define our values and a catalyst to find a little more space for what matters.

Here’s to all the people struggling to find some meaning in the current world and struggling to adjust to a new world. Together we've got this! Here's to seeing the incredible new cities we'll all be building in the months ahead.

Ollie x

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