What a year
So much has happened.
Brexit then Meghxit
MOT then RHI
Kobe Bryant then Caroline Flack
“Lol a Chinese virus named after a beer” then global pandemic
And it’s March 21stby the way.
The year is just getting started.
2020 was supposed to be your year. Everybody knows even numbered years are your thing. Goodbye 2019 and all its insignificance. New decade, new you! You’d got the new job. You’d met the guy or girl of your dreams. You’d moved into the new house. You’d got the pay rise. The baby was on the way. Hell yeah you were going places. Good luck pissing on your parade. You are unstoppable.
Enter global pandemic… Very much the piss on your parade.
Your job? Uncertain. Your family’s health? Uncertain. Your holiday? Certain. It ain’t happening.
The gyms closed, the pubs closed. There’s no football, rugby, golf, tennis, lacrosse, water polo, snooker or chess tournaments to be found. Church gatherings aren’t happening. Mass is off. No more meals out for the foreseeable. This is unprecedented. We’ve read about this stuff during times of war or in Florence Nightingale’s day. But not us. Not now. What the …?
Is this the biblical “last days”? Is this the Chinese’s way of crippling western civilisation? Is this just bad luck? Is this natural selection? Is this “fake news”?
We all have questions, doubts, worries and concerns. Both for ourselves and for our families. What we don’t have are answers or timescales. We are kinda all just stumbling around. Learning as we go.
Being the weird person that I am I find society’s varying reactions to the pandemic fascinating. The range of approaches is so wide. From the older man who couldn’t give a chuck to the religious zealot who doesn’t wash her hands because God has already cleansed her soul. From the “keep calm and carry on” to the “we are all going to die” And everything in between. Truly fascinating.
For what it’s worth below are my observations. Why should you listen to me? No reason whatsoever, I’m not qualified and certainly not an expert in anything. But hey ho, you’re socially isolating, you’re bored out of your tree and you’ve got this far in the blog.
Life is a fragile thing but
I don’t know what your view of COVID-19 is. I don’t know how seriously you are taking it. Maybe you are one of the people who were laughing at the meme of the guy with an empty box of corona over his head two weeks ago. Maybe you’ve taken it seriously from the start. Perhaps your loved one or even you are “immunocompromised” It’s possible that you are absolutely terrified of what the future holds.
Anxiety levels are undoubtedly growing. Understandably so. People have, are and will die from this. Throughout almost every nation on this planet. Thoughts of our own mortality don’t sit comfortably. “Don’t be so morbid!” Aren’t we invincible? Don’t these things just affect everyone else except me?
These anxieties can cause many things. Quite often the primary outworking of anxiety is fear. Fear of what will happen. Fear because I can’t control it. Fear because members of my family are immunocompromised. Fear because this whole thing is way over my head. Fear at a time like this is completely understandable. Allow yourself to feel it. It doesn’t make you weak – it makes you human.
Yet even in fear there are lessons. I’m not going to go into faith or spirituality because you are you. You have your own beliefs and things you cling to in a crisis.
The fact that life is a fragile thing is a sobering thought. Yet the fact that life is a fragile thing ought to prompt us to a greater appreciation of all that life is. Of all that life can be. Of how blessed we are and have been.
If I’m told to self – isolate at home, I have a home in which to self- isolate. I have a fridge containing food. I have enough toilet rolls. Life is a fragile thing. But I am blessed. And chances are if you’re reading this you’re pretty damn blessed too.
We are selfish but
Global pandemic killing people all over the world and we decide to start royal rumbles in supermarkets over Andrex four packs. We can’t go to church, pubs or play sport but we’ll be able to clean our bums until 2024. Oh and eat pasta, rice and bread. Trust us. In times of crisis turn to carbohydrates. Let’s just hope we’re all getting enough fibre to need those toilet rolls.
We’ve all seen the videos and pictures online. The candid, heart-breaking photos of the granny who’s just a fingernail away from reaching the last jar of dolmio on the top shelf. The ridiculous stockpiling. When times are tough so many of us retreat into survival mode. We do what’s best for us and to hell with everyone else. We fill our trolleys. Fill our cupboards. Fill our lives with stuff. Stuff upon stuff upon more stuff. Self-preservation. That’s the aim of the game right?
We are selfish.
We have the capacity for kindness.
I’m sure you’ve also seen many videos, posts and comments about the incredible work of NHS staff. Your heart has been warmed as you’ve read of selfless acts by businesses, religious organisations, charities and just everyday people like you and I. Kindness is what will get us through this. Simple kindness. Giving something of what we have to someone who has not. That will look however it looks in your context. But in spite of all our selfishness and self-preservation let us be kind. Let us give. And if that means we have to use a lasagne sheet as toilet paper so be it.
We are insignificant but
I had many plans for the next few months. Training courses. Gym goals. Initial holiday discussions. I’d started playing hockey again. The new house was going well. As was the new job. One year eating disorder free. Everything was moving in a direction and trajectory that I was very happy about.
All training is now cancelled. The gym is closed. Holidays won’t be happening. Sport isn’t being played. The job looks very different now. Much of the stuff that was so important is now completely irrelevant. And who knows for how long.
It’s entirely possible that most of your plans have been cancelled too. Your wee city break at Easter, the stag do, the cup final, the job promotion, the pay rise, the wedding. Most of us have had our lives turned upside down.
The pillars that most people build their lives upon have come crashing down. Most of the things that we depend upon for that “happy life” now can’t be done. Global pandemics don’t give a shit about my gym membership. My plans are so unbelievably insignificant. I am the smallest of fish in the largest of oceans. I do not matter. My self- absorbed life is so absolutely irrelevant. That is scary.
Despite all of our insignificance it’s at times like this when you will be at your most significant. Not what you have. Or what your status is. Or how many friends you have. But you. The person that you are. When all your social activities have been stripped back it will be your ability to look out for others that will define you. Your ability to offer support to those most vulnerable.
I hate motivational crap just for the sake of it. Ironic I know! But we are significant. Our plans and the shit we fill our lives with are ridiculously insignificant. But we’re not. Our behaviours in days and weeks to come will be a fascinating reflection of who we are.
We’ve been told to self – isolate but
At first self - isolation and social distancing kinda sounded attractive to a lot of people. A few weeks off work. Copious amounts of Prosecco and Netflix. An excuse to eat chocolate every day because you know “we’re in crisis.” Then the penny began to drop. Self-isolation sucks. Weeks spent with either just yourself. Or your family. An extended Christmas day. With no sport on TV and no presents to play with. Oh dear…
For many people the biggest fear of self - isolation will be one that they don’t fully comprehend. Self- isolating means being alone with self. Do you know how many people are absolutely terrified to be left in their own company for any amount of time?
So what do they do? Because they’re not comfortable in themselves? They fill the space. They fill it with people, with religion, with social activities, with social media, with work, with relationships, with addiction, with (insert whatever you like.) The vast majority of people are profoundly uncomfortable in their own presence.
Self – isolation will break some people because it will force them to sit with themselves. To reflect on their lives and who they are in a way that is terrifying. I get it. I spent years “self- isolating” because questions over identity and purpose were so profoundly unbearable.
I have no advice or counsel to offer. Only this.
Let it happen.
Let the questions come? Learn to embrace the stillness. The simple life. One not filled with stuff. When all the superficial gets stripped back we discover who we truly are. It’s a frightening process. But I promise it’s a worthwhile one.
No better time to start…
I’ll probably be fine but
I’m twenty six. My immune system is pretty strong. My nutrition is good. I have enough money and a stable enough job to get through this. I’ll probably be fine.
But you see I’m not the important one in this. If I get COVID –19 or I’ve already had it I’ll probably have some mild symptoms and make a recovery. But you see I’d be a carrier. I have the potential to infect others. Others who are significantly more vulnerable that I am. Others who would potentially die. Dramatic? Yes. True? Also yes.
Let me be frank.
I have the important responsibility to quite simply “not be a dick about COVID-19”
I have the responsibility to wash my hands. I have the responsibility to cut out interactions. To stop visiting vulnerable people. To take precautions that am I fortunate enough to be educated to take. To use what I need and give what I don’t need. To stay at home. To watch a boxset. To use less toilet paper. To put other people first.
To in short not be a dick about COVID – 19
You’ve had your carbohydrates.
Here’s some cheese (truth) for a conclusion
We are living in unprecedented times. We are living what will be our kids’ history lessons in thirty years. This is actually my responsibility. It’s yours too. High School Musical had it right. We are all in this together.
Let’s not be dicks.
We’ve done that enough.