It is with great caution that I tread in writing this piece because I fully appreciate that the CoronaVirus epidemic has been either traumatic or even fatal for many people. I do not wish to belittle that fact in any way and I fully respect that, for many families, this virus will have changed their lives forever and not in a good way.
I speak only from a personal perspective and my comments only relate to my own lifestyle. As most people will know, I am quite reclusive and very rarely go out or as Micky Flanagan would say, I rarely go 'out out'. Due to restrictions caused by bipolar disorder, I work from home and have a fairly comfortable existence. By this, I mean that I am not under excessive time constraints and my work life is fairly flexible. I don't mean comfortable financially. The crash in 2008 saw to this in a big way but that's another story...
You may be tempted to think that, apart from the financial aspect, my day to day life is pretty idyllic. However, it seems that even the most complexed chaos has an order to it if you pan out far enough. To clarify, I'm trying to say that even with such flexibility, patterns of routine begin to form. After a while repetition becomes more and more apparent. Before you know it, your life feels just like it did when you had a daily 9 to 5 job.
Hell is repetition. I have the name 'Sysyphus' written on the sides of my Converse Chucks. Sysyphus or, as it is correctly spelt, 'Sysiphus' is a character from Greek mythology who, for acts of trickery, was punished by Zeus. His punishment was to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill and just before he reached the summit, the boulder would become too much and roll back to the bottom where Sysiphus would have to begin again. This is what repetition feels like to me. I needed the brakes to be slammed on to the repetitive day to day, payday to payday mundanity that I saw as being my and everyone else's existence. This would give me time to take stock and re-evaluate, well, everything!
COVID19 has done this. Regrettably, it has come at a severe price and I certainly wouldn't have wished for suffering and loss. Nevertheless, it has happened. From a 'going out' point of view, it hasn't really changed my life in any way. Apart from walking my dog which I have still been able to do, the only other outing I make is to the supermarket every week. This is also my most 'at risk' time. On the whole, I have a healthy vegan diet, I don't drink except for about 4 litres of water every day and I have 'moderate' daily exercise. As such, I don't consider myself as 'at risk' as even the average person although I still adhere to the guidelines for the sake of others.
So, what has changed? I think this epidemic has caused many people to re-evaluate many aspects of their lives. Isolation has given us more time with our immediate families, more time in our homes and more time to reflect on what is important. We have indulged in activities that we don't normally do. Jobs we've been promising to do for the last 10 years have now been completed. Since moving back to Barnsley in 2015, we have desperately needed to paint our house. I was going to do it in fits and starts, one room at a time. As my wife has also been unable to work, we managed to paint the whole house in the space of a couple of weeks.
Another aspect that has been subject to re-evaluation is what people are 'worth'. By this, I mean that we are all of a sudden showing appreciation for our NHS staff, emergency services personnel, retail staff, delivery drivers and care staff. To my credit, many of my family will testify that, long before the COVID19 situation, I often explained that I viewed NHS staff and the likes of the afore-mentioned as the real 'rock stars', 'film stars' or 'footballers' and that their pay should reflect this. Without getting too political, this period has also confirmed the worth of our government: fuck all. I found the clapping business rather crass and embarrassing considering the majority of voters went out and elected the biggest threat to the NHS. Also, if people really want to show their appreciation to the NHS, they should adopt healthier lifestyles. Our hospitals would be under a lot less pressure if people stopped fueling their bodies with shit. We would also be better armed to fight off viruses as (generally speaking) a healthier lifestyle creates stronger immunity. This is not a criticism, it is science.
When this is all over and we start to rebuild our lives, habits and our approach to others whom we share our planet with, please ask yourself, 'do I want what we had before or is there a better way?' Written with love.