Be careful what you wish for...
Reading back on my New Year message at the start of 2020 I was talking about my desire for more time to do what I love - to create.
And then the pandemic hit us all!
I started the year with a month in majestic New Zealand and ended my trip in lockdown for a further three weeks.
I came back to the UK in April to summer weather and then joined the rest of the country in lockdown.
I, along with everyone else not working on the front line or in Government, suddenly had that rarest of commodities as an adult - time on our hands.
It was heartening to hear families laughing and playing together in their gardens, to hear birdsong without the regular interruption of sirens, to have clearer air to breathe with fewer cars on the roads and planes overhead. It was like someone had pressed the pause button on our lives, and we were given the opportunity to take a step back, and to just be.
I don't need to elaborate on the destruction this virus has inflicted on our World, we are all painfully aware of that.
Instead I choose to focus on the silver linings. That fathers have enjoyed time spent with their children, have enjoyed helping cook dinner, and are now opting to work from home more often, rather than the grind of the daily commute.
Parents and children have grown vegetables, and created havens in their gardens, window boxes, and balconies, to allow wildlife to flourish.
People have changed careers, followed different pathways, been more entrepreneurial, adapted their business to meet need when their existing business was struggling.
Some have up-sticks and moved from city to country.
People have come together to support our front line workers in any way they can - even if it is just to clap and bang our saucepans with wooden spoons to show our gratitude and appreciation.
They say time is a healer. Time to pause and reflect on our lives has certainly been the saviour of many.
But perhaps most importantly, the restrictions that have been imposed on all of us, have, in a sense, brought us closer. We have chosen to talk rather than text, to face-time or have video calls so that we can see our friends, family, and loved ones. We have recongnised how vital it is for us to be with people - to talk, laugh, touch, hug, kiss. And that these simple gestures, that cost nothing, hold far, far more value, than any material possession we own.
I hope that we all remember that in the years ahead, and no longer take the simple things for granted.
Let's all look forward with hope - for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year, and time spent enjoying the company of our friends, family, and loved ones.