Life is Beautiful – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing

Years ago my life was different;  I used to watch films.  And I mean watch all sorts of films, I aimed to consume all the classics, understand the work of the great directors, be fluent in my appreciation of foreign language films.  In short I wanted to be able to say – ‘yes I’ve seen that’ and then be able to discuss.  Talking about films to people who like films was one of my life’s joys.  The coming together, the disagreements.  These days I rarely watch a film, a combination of box sets, young children and the expense of the cinema keeps me for the most part absent from the movies.  But all those films I have watched, and during those formative years!  So it isn’t that surprising that my mind wanders back occasionally to that back catalogue and since the lockdown I’ve been thinking about the Oscar winning Italian film ‘Life is Beautiful’.

Somewhere in my house is a copy of it on DVD, and perhaps I will watch it again after writing this.  I’ve not seen it for years, but as Maya Angelou is often quoted ‘I remember how it made me feel’.  Happy, delighted and with the overwhelming sense that life is indeed beautiful, it also made me feel profoundly sad and teary on leaving the cinema when I first saw it, but this only contributed to the conclusion that the film title gave me.

So why have I been thinking about this film?  Well I, like everybody have been affected by the Coronavirus and been subjected to the national lockdown.  WFH has entered the popular vernacular (working from home if you’re interested) and it has had an impact on how I feel, what my days are like, my mood and my sense of having meaning. 

Those that have known me over the past few years are aware that I have become very interested in how to work collaboratively, and have researched a lot of theory on this since working with the Kings Fund.  But in this current situation is this of any use?  I’ve seen a lot of tweets from people with lived experiences, or in the involvement world that have bemoaned that patient voice has been lost in the current Covid-19 crisis, and I agree with them.  Decisions have been made and fast, and haven’t involved people with lived experience of services….

So I’ve been wondering what the point of all the learning was, and whether theory is of any use at the moment?  Then I remembered a lecture by Bejamin Zander that I’d seen on YouTube talking about his father’s experience of internment camps after the second world war, the talk isn’t specifically about his father’s experience but simply highlights an approach different ways of thinking about the situations we find ourselves in, this linked in to my thoughts on the movie.

Life may quickly go back to how it was before, life might not and I could be ‘WFH’ for a long period of time.  But I need to think about how to work differently, how to involve people when we are all so far apart and how to keep an ability to believe we can make a difference, and that it matters.  Life is always what it is, but how we choose to approach it, can sometimes be up to us.  Life is difficult, life has currently changed but life is beautiful. 

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