Around this time last year I was feeling burnt out. I know, it’s become a buzz term, but there’s a lot of truth to this modern sensation that we just used to call “tired”. Compared to thirty years ago, we don’t live simple lives anymore. Even those of us in the mundanity of the suburbs and relative comfort of full time employment are constantly wired to absolutely everything going on in the world at a moments reach for our phone.
I’m not about to recommend you watch The Social Dilemma, I’ve not seen it myself. I don’t need to, I feel the same way about this as I do much of the Black Mirror hype. We’re living this.
I decided to take an extended break from work over Christmas 2019 to lay low and recharge. I didn’t make specific plans or attend many social occasions. I needed to wallow, in my house and reflect on what felt like a few non-stop years. Yes, I know the irony, be careful what you wish for, etc.
I emerged in January refreshed and had a fairly good month, despite a feeling in the back of my mind that I wish I’d been able to take longer off. I made a great start on some new projects, I scheduled events and trips well in advance for 2020, I was even able to take a few inevitable hiccups almost entirely in my stride. Then I opened my big mouth. I had to say it didn’t I? I had to verbally acknowledge how well the month had gone. I’m not superstitious, but the timing of falling ill within days of making that statement verges on comical.
Speaking of timing, although it may have been a few weeks too early to assume a definitive conclusion, I’m reasonably confident that I had coronavirus. Perhaps an earlier strain or some version of it, either way the symptoms match what we now know to be commonplace. I’m not sure we’ll ever know for sure. By the time antibodies tests became available, it was three months later and any immunity may have faded.
The first week of February was spent housebound again, this time entirely against my will. I missed two gigs, which, for a while felt like the worst thing in the world. Then the situation at large became far more dire.
I was just beginning to recover from whatever virus I had when the time came to make a decision about how to act in light of the growing number of coronavirus cases in the UK. On Tuesday 10th March I made the decision to work from home for the foreseeable future.
And so here we are, eight months later. As I wrote in my last post, things are currently looking oddly the same.
Even as the country began to open up again over the Summer, I held back. I did venture out from time to time, but it seemed logical to me that for things to work, it would require both people to test the water and others to take their time. If everyone had returned to “normal”, it would’ve lasted a month tops. Personally, I didn’t feel the urgent need to go out all that much, I was happy to make way for others and I think it is in part because I’m still working through the same burn out from a year ago.
I’ve been biding my time sorting through years worth of things I’ve accumulated. Collections, photographs, memories, all stacked up in literal and metaphorical boxes. Trivial though much of it may seem, I have a lot of my life invested in storage and unpacking it all both helps to make sense of the clutter and offers some perspective. Whether it’s scraps of ideas noted down years ago or yet another box of Star Wars figures, I feel clearer having had this extended downtime to sort through the life luggage.
Reaching the other side of this isn’t about rediscovering extrovert ways of days long past. It’s finding the energy to embrace the future and enthusiasm to make something of it. Right now the outlook is clouded for all of us, it’s always this way, but it is undeniably more intense at present. It’s an easy time to turn to turn a blind eye to the future and I’ve welcomed the opportunity this year. It can’t last forever though and I think I might be ready to look forward as well as back.