It’s fair to say life has changed fairly dramatically over the past couple of weeks. Coronavirus – or Covid-19 – has altered our world more substantially than anything any of us can recall.
The craziest thing is that none of us anticipated it. Then when it all became ‘real’, still none of us expected it to hit us quite as hard as it has.
And now that it’s got us all locked down indefinitely, with nothing to do but rely on technology to keep in touch with each other, none of us know when it will end.
Or whether things will ever go back to the way they were before.
If that all sounds a bit dramatic, that’s only because it is.
Let’s take us for example. Don’t let the smiley faces fool you….we’ve been affected pretty hard. At least from a financial or professional perspective.
I started a new job in mid-March. That lasted all of an hour!
The company in question specialise in international events, so were facing cancellations left, right and centre. I joined right at the point where they were trying to figure out how on earth they could protect themselves against all this. The last thing they needed was an extra employee on their books.
So back home I went.
(They’ve subsequently placed all their staff on furlough, but of course my position only started after the cut-off date set by the government, so unfortunately that doesn’t apply to me and I’ll get nothing. Bugger).
Meanwhile my wife, a self-employed jeweller, isn’t faring much better. She can’t even get in to her workshop. So we will have to wait and see whether she can access some of the government’s financial support. That’s only set to kick in around June though, and with her eligibility for that in question too (that’s another story…) we’re not holding our breath on that front either.
Then there’s poor little Marley.
He can’t go to his nursery. He can’t see his friends. He can’t even go out to the play park.
And despite us trying to explain what’s going on in the least terrifying way possible (“so there’s this killer virus, right…..”) he hasn’t really got any idea why he’s being forced to spend all his time with two unemployed people who just sit round the house all day.
So here we are. Stuck indoors with no work to do, and a three-year-old boy who requires round-the-clock entertainment.
There are also many small businesses out there, especially those who usually provide in-person activities like baking, theatre, dancing, football, tennis, rugby many of whom are now offering their classes online for free.
Those are some of the positives. The negatives, we are fully aware, mean that many of these companies may not survive this.
But let’s try and focus on the positives.
One major development has been that people seem to be connecting with each other more than ever before. There hasn’t been a day go by where we haven’t caught up with our family and/or friends, many of whom we haven’t spoken too in an almost criminal amount of time.
Advice from mentalhealth.org suggests that anyone staying at home ought to “find creative ways to keep in touch with co-workers, friends, family, and others”.
Those of us who had never heard of Zoom or Houseparty before, let alone used them, have been following this advice to the letter. We have to be grateful that we live in a time where these platforms and technologies exist. It would be hard to imagine how we’d manage without them now.
Of course, these new opportunities often create new challengess. One such challenge it’s created in our household has been the insane amount of time we now find ourselves using our phones. Marley had never before uttered the soul-crushing words: “can you both please get off your phones?” And we use them too much at the best of times!
So we are both making a conscious attempt to limit our use of them to when we are actually talking to other people on them, so that we don’t inadvertently descend in to a spiral of coronavirus memes (or even worse, TikTok!)
We’re also trying to use this time to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve noticed on social media that most people seem to fall in to one of two groups when it comes to being creative at this time;
- those who believe now is the time to write that novel you’ve always wanted to write, or learn a new language, or do an online course or something else you’ve always wanted to try
- those who believe now is the time for reflection and understanding that we don’t always need to be in such a damn hurry to get these things done
I actually fall in to a third category; those who believe they have no choice but to try to be as creative as humanly possibly in the vain hope that whatever they might manage to produce over the next few weeks (or months!) might actually make money at some point in the future*.
*You will be able to read about my award-winning children’s stories and chart-topping podcast in upcoming blog posts.
The way forward
So where do we go from here?
I would love to say we are now a household that collectively leaps out of bed in the morning to smash our morning exercise with Joe Wicks before demolishing a healthy breakfast while practicing our French.
I’d love to say we then follow a military-grade schedule of education, learning, creation and connecting with other people right up until bedtime.
I’d love to say that.
But in reality, we are more likely to be found trying our best to muddle through, while facing those everyday challenges that everyone faces. Namely boredom and a lack of motivation.
Even during a period where we have all this available time at home with an endless list of things to do, we can be bored. I find the key ingredient is often enthusiasm. It can take a hell of a lot of effort to find it, but it’s ultimately worth the slog.
I think the most important thing of all is that we simply try our very best not to forget the lessons this crisis is teaching us. In my most humble of opinions, we should all continue to keep on connecting with each other in this positive way.
And look after each other.
Plenty of good can come from those four things, and I remain optimistic that this will be a time we look back on when things changed for the better.