The World Can Change A Lot In A Year
Change is the only constant in life
This time last year I was in Ireland climbing mountains. It was the first part of a road trip around Europe that two friends and I did.
The main aim of the trip was to travel around Europe climbing the highest point in each country. I’m not a big mountaineer, but I went along as it was a great way to see most of the continent.
However, both of my friends were determined to climb as many mountains as they could. One of them, Adam, managed to climb the highest point in every country in geographical Europe. He did this in 174 days and broke a world record in the process!
It’s an incredible achievement, which is made all the more remarkable by the fact this was just three friends travelling around in a cheap Kia, relying on each other, and the health of our car to complete the journey.
Looking back, I still can’t believe that we managed to drive the car as far as we did and that it made it back in one piece. I can’t believe one of us broke a world record either. It’s surreal.
What is more surreal though, is the world we find ourselves in today. Had we postponed the trip for a year, we would have been screwed. Any chance of driving around the UK, never mind Europe, would have been scuppered.
In little under a year, the world has changed drastically. It still feels like yesterday we set off to catch the ferry from Holyhead in Wales to head over to Ireland. The world we are living in today is far removed from a year ago.
This new reality highlights a fundamental part of life that is often overlooked. The only constant in life is change. Whether the changes are subtle or profound like the one over the past few weeks, things never stand still.
The amazing thing about life is how quickly things can change in such a short space of time. At the start of March, I wasn’t overly concerned about coronavirus. Now near . the end of April, I’m only venturing out of the house when necessary.
I tend to go with the flow and not ponder about what has gone before. But, this is such an unusual situation, that I can’t help but look back.
A year ago, as my friends and I were driving around Europe, the idea that a pandemic would spread around the globe and change life as we know it, seemed fanciful.
Now it is reality. A pandemic on this scale was inevitable, it was only a matter of time. You never think it’s going to happen, but when it does you wonder how you hadn’t considered the possibility beforehand.
This reminds me of 9/11 in a lot of ways. When it happened, it was so striking and visceral. I was only a child and had been to America a year before on a family holiday. The thought someone might hijack a plane and crash it into the Twin Towers was never in my thoughts.
Now, every time I step on a plane I always have a slight unease about what might happen. I have been on a lot of flights since 2012, but I’m still struck by the possibility that anything could happen.
Maybe I will feel that way about viruses and hygiene from now on. Maybe we all will. The difference between a year ago and today is stark. A year ago it felt like anything was possible.
The car could take us anywhere. I could visit anywhere. It felt like there were no limits attached to what I might achieve and what was possible. Now, the opposite is true.
Uncertainty reigns. I have no idea what will happen in a month let alone by the end of the year. My plans to move abroad have been shelved and I have no idea whether I will be able to do so in the near future.
I have gone from feeling like anything is possible to wondering whether life will ever be the same again. From climbing mountains across Europe, I’m now confined to my house unable to venture very far.
It’s a perfect illustration of how much life can change, even in the space of a year.
Change with the times
The situation we find ourselves in has hammered something I’ve thought about for a while. That change is a constant thread throughout our lives.
I’ve not been afraid to make big changes before. I quit a job I hated back in 2012 to live in Australia for a year. I moved to Barcelona to teach English after returning home from New Zealand and I left a comfortable office job to become self-employed back in 2018.
I’m not afraid of change, in fact, I quite like it. I consider myself to be adaptable and able to deal with what life throws at me. This time, however, it feels different.
This time I am not the one instigating change. it’s outside events that have dictated the change. It’s disconcerting if you believe in the notion that you have complete control over your life. No one does, It’s an illusion.
Change can and will happen. We all have to accept this reality. There is no way of getting around this. The sooner we realise this the better.
It’s easy to complain about what has happened and wish for things to go back to the way they were, but this is to ignore reality. We have to be open to change because whether we like it or not, it will happen.
The change from a year ago for me is profound. This day last year, I was in Dublin walking around the city and seeing the sights before heading to County Kerry to climb the highest point in Ireland.
I was setting out on the start of an adventure, which was full of possibility. Today, I find myself confined to a room in my house. I can leave the house for exercise once a day and go to the supermarket.
The streets are deserted. People cross the road instead of walking past one another. I now understand the meaning of the phrase, avoid like the plague!
What this passage of time has shown me is that change comes in many forms. It can be subtle, it can be hidden, and in this case, it can be drastic, but it’s always happening.
Things are always changing. Sometimes, they change us and other times, we change with them. The world is in a constant state of flux. We are actors, not directors on the grand stage.
Life will return to some of normality, but it will change again in the future. All we can do is prepare ourselves for change and roll with the punches.
One day I’ll be back climbing mountains, but for now, I’m sat ay my desk writing articles. Embrace change, after all, it’s inevitable.