Right outside of Soho Square in the heart of London sits The Toucan — a pub dedicated to Guinness. It looks as close to a must visit as anyplace. Further research showed that Jimi Hendrix once performed in the basement. Another reason to go just in case a pint of Guinness wasn’t enough motivation.
I stumbled upon the Toucan en route to my firm’s office in Soho Square. While I didn’t visit that day, I promised myself that I would definitely partake in a pint at a later date during my short trip to London.
That date didn’t happen.
Shortly after first spotting The Toucan, the corona virus pandemic escalated quickly. We went from normal office life to working at home. From traveling on the Underground and joyfully walking the eclectic streets of London to home bound. From pub visits with friends and family to in-home meals and entertainment.
My wife and I arrived in London in mid-February filled with optimism and grand plans. Pub dinners out with cousins. Seeing that cool play in the West End. Meeting a good friend from Seattle at Rules, London’s oldest restaurant. We’d have a short, amazing burst of all the vibrancy London offers.
And then nothing. Gone. Like a magician making a rabbit disappear, everyday life went away just as quickly. All plans changed as the world pivoted to a new way of life. Our typical days of home, work, and social interaction disappeared fast. Every arrangement thrown out the window. This was just over a month ago and those days pre-virus seem like a distant age.
But this is not a story of despair over not being able to go to a pub. Rather a reflection on how easy it is to put things off only for them to never happen. How often do we say:
“I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“Let’s take that trip next year.”
“I’ll start at the gym next week”
“I should look into learning a new language. Maybe in the summer.”
“We’ll start traveling/hiking/cycling/cooking/<insert your thing here> next month…”
During “normal” times it’s easy to forgo everything. After all, there’s always more time another day. Tomorrow. Many of us had the opposite problem — we had no time. Very busy with work, school, kids, etc. Just too much to do. We’ll do it later when there was more time.
Setting the terrible tragedy of the virus aside, the pandemic crystallizes that sudden changes dramatically alter everything. Time we thought we had disappears in a blink. And, on the positive side, time we wished we had suddenly appears out of nowhere as if by magic. Time now to make that phone call to a friend. Time to show your kids those old board games gathering dust. Time to start working out at home, learning a language, or even writing more.
We will emerge from the crisis better and arrive at the other side with new approaches to every part of our lifestyle. And hopefully with a new appreciation for our time and a desire by everyone to accelerate plans and see them through sooner. If a post-virus world affords greater appreciation for our time and a proclivity towards taking action, it will be one small positive awaiting us. Like my pint at The Toucan.