Life under lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t at all what I expected.
Being stuck at home has felt like I’m slowly falling into a state of disrepair. Like an abandoned bicycle left in a forest. Over time, paint gives way to rust, tree roots ensnare metal spokes, and manufactured mineral makes its way back into the ground.
Just as the forest gradually reclaimed the bike, my own break down happened too slowly for me to notice.
I began the quarantine in a state of smug confidence.
The month before the lock down began, I had set up a fancy home office, complete with motorised standing desk. I also had years of remote working under my belt.
I felt like my situation and set of skills made me uniquely prepared for the lockdown. Kinda like Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee in a zombie apocalypse.
But it’s now the end of May, and my daily routine is so strange; and I don’t know how I got here.
Time and the lock down have chipped away at me; my transformation into three-toed sloth is now complete.
I sleep past 2am every night (although I couldn’t tell you what I get up to) and wake up after 10am. The simplest of work tasks have now become an insurmountable battle, so I’ve simply given most of them up.
I feel like I’m living out my days in a thickly padded sound proof room. The thing is, I don’t mind it in here. I’m not at all motivated to attempt escape.
I think I’m going to emerge from this lock down a changed person.
That is, I suspect I’ve changed, but I’m not even sure how. Because my life these days is so different, I have no way to compare who I am now versus who I used to be. I’ll only find out when the lock down is fully lifted and I get the chance to make the same decisions as before.
I’m curious to find out which of my choices will change, and why.
Or perhaps I’ll just bounce back and go about my life in exactly the same way as before. In a single flourish, I’ll shed off the rust and disrepair, and rejoin the world of eating out at restaurants and happy productivity.
Truly, I have no idea.
Here’s an attempt at an uplifting takeaway
I know this post is kind of a strange, abstract downer. The silver lining is that being down is the best time to practice empathy. Here are a few things I’ve been practising, that you might enjoy too.
Be kind to yourself and others. We’re all coping differently – don’t judge whatever weird thing people do to get to grips with the situation they’re in. Unless they’re encroaching on you. In which case, you should draw some boundaries.
Tread lightly amongst your family members, every step reverberates in a closed chamber.
Practice acceptance and equanimity for the situation. And don’t indulge in outrage porn. Or do, because maybe you just need to feel something.
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The single thing I’ve managed to maintain during this lock down is my semi-daily 1.9km runs. It only takes me about 10 minutes, and I’ve managed it for 28 out of 40 days. It’s the only thing that takes me outside my house, and I’m saner for it.
In light of that, here are some links about running. Running is not just running for these people. It’s about determination, sanity and self-exploration. It’s about doing something over and over again for decades in a stubborn effort to grow. I hope you find an activity that gives you what running gives these people (and, dare I say, me).
I’m a huge fan of Beau Miles. Here he is trying to run one of the longest and oldest trails in Australia. It’s always inspiring to see this man push his body to the brink of exhaustion just for the experience. Link to video →
Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired, writes about his relationship with running and his father. Link to article →
I loved this book by David Goggins. Probably the most determined individual I’ve ever read about. He ran his first 100 mile ultra marathon without ever running a normal marathon. He also completed his Navy SEAL training with nothing but duct tape keeping his shin fractures together. If you’re into self-improvement at all, this is a must-read. Link to goodreads review →
Haruki Murakami is a weird dude, and I’m here for it. Now in his early 70s, Murakami has been running for hours every day, for decades. This book is a biography organised around his experiences with running. An enjoyable, albeit meandering, read. Link to goodreads review →