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#SuperSaturday is not Independence Day — it is ‘acceptance’ day

Today it’s Saturday the 4th of July: Super Saturday. This is the day when England re-opens! What will it be like? What will it feel like?

I am a man in my 50s , and so my movies’ framework is pre-2000’s. With any luck, you will forgive me — especially since my age puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID.

So, what will it be like, today? What will it feel like?

Will it be like in Awakenings (1990), where catatonic patients wake up from a long sleep of 40 years and wonder in a new world?

Or like Madmax (the 1979 one), where violent gangs roam the streets after societal breakdown?

The fact that I am even considering these as two hypothetical (hopefully unlikely) scenarios for today really says it all.

What will it be like today? It will be a range of different, even extreme emotions, and everything in between.

Anxiety: scanning the horizon for incoming passers-by in order to anticipate their trajectory and maintain distance.

Concern: thinking of our parents, grandparents, older friends, now even more at risk than before.

Elation: meeting our closest people for the first time in months.

Fear: holding our hands up to stop people getting too close to us.

Freedom: of doing the most normal things, like walking, shopping, drinking, eating, sightseeing.

Frustration: being unable to hug and kiss the people that we love even if they are only a few steps away.

Intimacy: retrieving the physical closeness needed for affection and friendship.

Irritation: watching people taking little precaution and thus potentially spreading the virus.

Powerlessness: being unable to plan for the future, to truly assess risk.

Trauma: remembering news of caskets on lorries, overcrowded hospitals, overworked NHS staff, and bereaved people — if not remembering our own COVID illness, or that of our relatives.

We will carry this range of emotions with us today, when we will be walking the streets, going to a restaurant, cutting our hair.

So, today is not Independence Day (1996).

Nobody should feel surrounded by martians, even if the temptation will be there to point the finger at those behaving differently from us.

At people with masks, excessively attempting social distancing, disgruntledly keeping people at a distance

Or, on the opposite side, at people too getting physically close, excessively relaxing with a pint, forgetting for a few hours of the tragedy around us.

Today is instead acceptance day.

Acceptance, first of all, of ourselves, our fears, our anxiety, our doubts, our powerlessness, our needs and wishes.

And acceptance of others, their needs and wishes, and their decisions and behaviours that might be different from ours.

A shorter version of this piece was printed in the Daily Mirror on the 3rd of July 2020, under the title Prepare for day of emotions.


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