Today I heard the birds singing. Not just the noisy seagulls that can be heard above the usual city din. But the small birds whose song is usually drowned out under all the noise.
I’ve discovered that other wildlife has become more noticeable in the silence too.
A friend watched a fox at her gateway. Not darting around avoiding people. Just sitting at the end of her path, watching the world go by. Not that much was going by at all.
In Wales, a wild herd of Kashmiri goats came down from the hill and into the normally busy town of Llandudno. With very few people walking around, they have come into town nibbling the local flower beds
So what other positive consequences have we seen as a result of this crisis, that currently sees around 1/4 of the earth’s population in one form of lockdown or another?
In Portsmouth where I live, there has been a noticeable improvement in pollution levels. As one of the UK city’s with the highest pollution indicators normally, it’s been reported that some asthmatics have noticed that they haven’t had attacks or needed their inhalers since the lockdown began.
With car journey’s now less than half normal volumes the National Centre for Atmospheric Science data is showing massive reductions in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5). And they expect this to reduce further still.
It’s possible that other pollutants will follow suit, but this may take a little longer to determine.
This does get our climate planners very excited since it enables them to understand what is possible if polluting cars are removed from our city centres in the future and replaced with clean transport instead.
It’s difficult to measure positive consequences at this stage in the proceedings, although in business there are clear winners and losers. Regardless of how much money the Government tries to plow back in, there are issues in that not all parts of society are covered (think new businesses), and of course a question of payment timing and resources to administer the handouts. But some businesses thrive. Supermarkets jump out. In the month of March, partially due to panic buying, and partially because families now need to buy all their food in, they have had their best month ever. Bigger than even the Christmas season.
Also, there are opportunities for some other businesses. Those that run their business online, now have a captive audience, many of whom are currently trying to occupy their time at home. Social Network video conferencing facilities have now become common place in households. Many had never heard of applications such as Zoom, or Houseparty 2 weeks ago, and yet now, they are almost a household name as people try to keep in touch.
Online fitness programs are gathering more strength, and fitness instructors who have lost their ability to host group classes will lose out if they don’t adapt and provide their classes online quickly.
Online Cycling Apps such as Zwift and RGT Cycling have become even more popular than ever due to the social elements, which some other apps such as Sufferfest and Trainer Road are lacking. It’s good to know however that many of these have extended their free trials during this crisis. Generous although it seems, it simply makes good business sense. Once new customers get hooked on the apps, there’s a good likelihood that many will remain loyal to whichever app they settle on, and will become paying customers in the future.
It’s true that I am an eternal optimist. Every challenge is a chance to see things through different eyes. When things don’t go according to plan, it can be disappointing. But only death is final. Everything else is manageable.
I have been in some pretty grim situations at times in the past. I’ve been penniless, close to losing my home, I’ve had long term illnesses, and many other difficult times over the years. And yet I’ve never given up hope.
I always believe that something better will come of things, you just have to believe it, and look for the opportunities. Sometimes the opportunity is as simple as a single reframed thought. In fact, that’s exactly what happened at the point when I didn’t think I could hang onto my home any longer. It was a single thought that I changed and that was my lightbulb moment. Everything changed from that moment. I kept my house, and I even met my husband as a result. Another positive consequence. They are everywhere if you just keep looking and believing.
So to everyone out there that’s struggling through this crisis, have hope, this will pass, and you will get through it. Keep your eyes open for opportunity and be prepared to change just one thought and believe in it passionately.
I was asked once for a job to select an image for my business card that said something about me, and I chose a sunflower. It was thought to be a curious choice. But I ask you this, can you look at a sunflower without smiling? I know that I cant. Sunflowers are a cheery plant and this year sunflowers will grow in my front garden, to raise a smile for passers by in uncertain times.