Reflections on FY22 – and doing the maths on Covid

02 Apr Reflections on FY22 – and doing the maths on Covid

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 4.4.22


Of all the events we’ve created to mark the end of one thing and the beginning of another – Hogmany, Lunar New Year, Matariki, Diwali – it’s fair to say Tax Time is the one with the least sparkle.

And yet as we reach the end of this financial year – bye bye FY22! – I’m finding joy in trawling through bank statements and boxes of receipts, and piecing together a picture of the kind of year I’ve had.

Financial entrails like these consist mostly of figures – dates, income, expenditure, two kinds of tax – arranged in columns that each produce just one correct number. It’s why I love maths – all other answers in life are preceded by “It depends.”

And yet despite the numbers being irrefutable, I’ve been looking at the picture they draw of FY22 and I can tell you two quite different stories.

In one story: the big number on the spreadsheet shows my income has halved. Also, and related, almost no travel receipts. Pre-Covid, I moved around every week for work and loved it, and did that for pleasure, too.

Few receipts for fun family times – not just the 107 days of lockdown, but even more weeks and months of not seeing my kid and her kids. We were all deprived of being in the same room as each other, and I was kept away from the people I love the most. There have been some dark times at our place, for sure.

But I can look at the same data and see something else. In the space vacated by work and travel I did some things I’d been meaning to do but “could never find the time”. Self-development and study. I created a whole new community of friends who meet in the real world (lunch receipts!) or online, and strengthened the bond with old friends (Zoom pro subscription!) in the same way.

I learned to grab golden moments in between waves of this virus. That window this summer between Delta and Omicron was put to good use and we got halfway through a comedy tour before it got too risky.

Everyone’s story will look different. I started this pandemic with a savings account so the road has been easier than it will have been for others. And let’s not pretend this is all a jolly lark because it isn’t, and none of us are living the kind of life we’d like right now. For a lot of us, “not living the life we want” is a new experience. For others, not so much. But we are, mostly, living. We have one of the lowest death rates in the OECD.

We were always going to end up divided during this pandemic – if not by vaccines, then by health status. From the start, you could see people doing the maths – will I survive this virus or not? It depends.

If you are young, fit, some level of bulletproof, the restrictions and sacrifices seemed only just worth it, and patience waned. You can say “let it rip” if you think it won’t rip through you.

But if you do the maths and calculate you or someone you love might fare badly? Then the restrictions have seemed a small price, the least-worst option. Collective responsibility over personal freedom.

Same data, different story depending on where you think you might fit on the spreadsheet. We’re lucky so many of us are still alive to argue about it.