Free as a curve-flattening bird | Opinion

By Andrew Johnston

“THE snow melted. We can go outside again!” screams Abe Simpson from the door of the Springfield Retirement Castle.

A dramatic pause falls over the home and its residents as they stare out to the green grass and sunshine.

“I don't like the looks of those teenagers.” The elderly turn around and go back inside.

A quick shout out to all the Simpsons nerds out there. I relate to grandpa Simpson at this moment because, as of Tuesday morning, I am something of a free man.

Two weeks after returning home to Tasmania, my mandatory period of self-isolation has come to an end.

The difference is, I want to go outside, and I did. I celebrated this period being over on Tuesday by taking my dogs for a walk around the block near my home.

It’s nice to be outside really. The feeling of being out in the fresh air for an extended period after two weeks where the furthest I could walk was to the end of my driveway to get the mail is one I have most certainly taken for granted.

The sounds of birds, the feeling of kicking the dew off the grass, honestly these are some of life’s great pleasures. How much of this life have we all taken for granted for most of our lives?

I never really felt like I was trapped when I was inside, it just felt like the normality of life in a way. You very quickly get used to something when there isn’t any alternative.

This was nice, I enjoyed my walk, and I will enjoy it every day until the restrictions on what we are able to do have come to an end.

Our new normality is starting to sink in for people, and you need only look at the figures around us to know that it’s true.

The science says it typically takes 10 days for people to change their behaviour when instructed to, so the newly introduced guidelines across the country introduced in the middle of March would start to take effect later in the month.

Stage two would be reflected in the stats in early April, and we will see the stage three numbers start to show in a week or so.

And if you look at the numbers, the daily rate of infection is not climbing as much as it was at the start.

You’ve heard the expression ‘flatten the curve’ many times, and the exciting part is the smartest ones in the room have the evidence the curve is indeed flattening.

But the virus isn’t behind us now – far from it really. Those with far greater qualifications than you or I say we are only getting started.

Progress is progress, and we should be proud of what we have achieved so far, but it isn’t a cue to relax or become complacent.

A vaccine for this virus is still upwards of 18 months away, so while we will see our restrictions become more relaxed over time, we still have a long time to work to protect one another.

There is a great quote that says: “I never went to Harvard, but I employ a lot of people who did”.

I was exposed to this quote by Justin Langer while binge watching The Test on Amazon Prime (warm recommendation if you enjoy a good sports documentary), and I think it’s an important thing to remember as this crisis continues.

While the groundwork is there, we must keep working at it since the peak of the virus is still months away for us.

That’s why we need to enjoy the little things like the fresh air when we are out exercising, because for a while, that’s what we get.

And when it’s over, I don’t know if that air is going to feel as fresh as it does right now for you. Eventually those simple pleasures won’t be simple pleasures anymore, they will be normality once again.

So, I guess while you take things as they come, stop and take a deep breath once in a while, and appreciate it for how special it actually is.