The simplest things have become the most wonderful

They’re back! From a balcony you can sense them before you see them. The sky is soft, the air is pure, the light diffuse. And then, like drop earrings, they appear one by one, until the sky seems full of hot-air balloons. It’s always a heart-surging surprise to see them, but like so many experiences this year, it’s especially welcome. Another symbol of things returning to how they were.

I’ve never valued the experience of going to a concert or a movie as much as I do now. The restrictions of the virus reduced our individual and collective enjoyment of daily life by an amount we’re only realising as it’s being restored.

The sight of hot-air balloons is always a treat.

The sight of hot-air balloons is always a treat.Credit:Max Mason-Hubers

A cup of coffee in a cafe with a friend, a meal in a restaurant, a seat at the footy – they are simple actions that we now realise require precious freedoms. It’s ironic that the virus has forced us both to separate and to confine ourselves in order to come together again safely. We haven’t enjoyed these restrictions on our autonomy but that work for the greater good has come to fruition.

Still, the hardships of lockdown aren’t yet over for many, as we know.

Those afflicted with paranoia and depression, those out of work, those who have lost people they love. This virus has made the fragility of our lives very clear. We all live close to potential loss all the time but are usually too preoccupied to notice until tragedy strikes.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” the poet Mary Oliver asks. Will we spend it so well that we have no cause for regret later? Will we love to the limit of our ability? Will we invest our hearts and minds in all the chances that come our way to fill our lives and share them with others?

One model for the well-lived life is that of Christ. In the three short years of his ministry he packed in as much as one life could possibly hold. Even under the duress of his passion he spoke only the truth and expressed only forgiveness for his tormenters. Having regained our freedom, may his example inspire us to be thankful always and to fill our days with everything that is good.

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