As I sit at my dining room table, my fingers pattering away on the keyboard, the rain is falling in sync outside. Despite this being a little round-up of photos from May, it is already mid-June, such is my perception of time at the minute. What month is it? Are we really already half-way through the year?
The State of Emergency has ended in Tokyo. Daily life has resumed, albeit at a slightly slower pace, and with the unsettling residue of COVID-19 clearly visible on the streets; the entire population of the city seemingly wearing masks, not so much embracing the ‘new normal’ (I hate that term) but simply accepting it. Airports are still shut. International travel seems like a fantastically absurd concept, one which we all took for granted as little as six months ago. As things stand, if I left Japan today, I would be refused entry again tomorrow.
It is becoming clear to me now that the after-effects of this pandemic will be long-lasting, and affect us all in so many ways. As a kindergarten teacher, I have grown accustomed to wearing a mask seven hours a day, but when it was suggested by our school last week that teachers may have to wear full face shields, it was at that moment it really clicked that life probably won’t fully go back to ‘normal’ for a very long time.
It’s a well-known fact of human existence that life can change in an instant. Breaking your leg, the death of a loved one; one minute things are rosy, yet within a few seconds everything can change. This pandemic has shown us all how fragile humanity really is, and while it isn’t exactly pleasant to think about, it now seems perfectly plausible (even likely?) that a virus could potentially wipe out the entire human race at some point in the future.
And yet, in stark contrast to the insanity being played out across the world right now, daily life within my own little bubble goes on. The sky is still blue, and the flowers still bloom. The vegetable shop at the end of the road is still open, and the streets are calm. It is a truly bizarre year in human history, but I feel very fortunate that I am able to drown out the madness simply by walking around these quiet suburban neighbourhoods.
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