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a blog by Chris Barrow

Live long and prosper

The title of today's post will immediately be recognised by many as the salutation used by Dr. Spock in the original Star Trek series and as used between members of the ever-so logical Vulcan race (although Leonard Nimoy himself acknowledged its roots in a traditional Jewish blessing).

Prosperity has been defined as "flourishing and thriving good fortune" and historically associated with materialism.

It was my wife Annie who caught my attention during a recent extended dog walk, as we discussed our Covid experience so far and she volunteered the opinion that, although 2020 had been kind to us in terms of our material prosperity, what was more important was how our emotional prosperity has grown.

That really had me thinking - about how the pre-Covid world was, in many ways, obsessed with the material and how, in the absence of retail therapy and the need to keep up with the Joneses, we may have shifted our focus towards our emotional wellbeing.

There is hardly a day goes by now that the news media are not highlighting some aspect of the effect of the pandemic on mental health, focusing on different sectors of the population, from front line healthcare workers to students, from single parents to the elderly.

Those interviewed express the internal pain caused by either seeing others suffer or seeing nobody.

We haven't just been united by the common cause of beating the virus - also by the ways in which we have had to adjust to living in this new world of collective suffering and isolation.

Here's a simple, perhaps even stupid, example of how the little things can affect us.

We've been watching the TV series "Walking through History" presented by Sir Tony Robinson, originally recorded up to 15 years ago. A lovely and relaxing way to learn about our heritage (and what a beautiful island we occupy).

During a recent episode on The Tudor Way in the South East England, he walked into an ancient pub in Kent and ordered a pint of real ale. As Tony stood at the bar, watching the landlord pull the amber nectar - I felt a lump in my throat at the thought of how much I enjoyed doing the same "in the good old days".

We have fewer choices now as to how to replenish our emotional prosperity.

For me that includes walking the dogs and chatting with my wife, walking with my kids, walking with friends, running in the rain (which I'll be doing 30 minutes from now), riding my bike, reading good literature, watching good TV, listening to good music. I'm going to admit that it's getting harder to enjoy the Zoom calls with family and friends as sitting in front of a screen seems so much like work.

Perhaps the boom in elective dental sales is an aspect of this - that "looking good and feeling good" is a part of our emotional prosperity?

Right now, it seems that materialism is "so yesterday".

I wonder, when this is as over as it can be, whether we will return to our old ways and start collecting 'stuff" again to make ourselves feel happy and show the neighbours how well we are doing?

Or will many of us remain convinced that, as Daniel Craig is alleged to have observed - "there is always someone with a bigger toy than yours".

Will we have been persuaded that our emotional prosperity is more important? That who we are is more important than what we've got?

We shall see.

"Peace and long life"

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