The Covid19 pandemic has dramatically changed the world we live in. It represents to many a complete feeling of lack of control of everything and everyone.
Of course, one of the strangest advantages of having supported Hagar’s military career for the last 20 plus years, is that having no control of your life and living on the edge is the norm. In fact, being at home alone with my kids, with limited access to a social life is also the norm. Thankfully, we have the Internet and, this blog has been a great form of connectivity during the loneliest of times.
Being estranged from my extended family for prolonged periods of time is the norm. Facing uncertainty is the norm. This, then coupled with significant life changing emotional and financial disasters has simply meant that the Covid19 is not my worst crisis. In those crises, I learned the hard way who I could trust and who I could not; friends and family alike.
In the midst of this chaos my greatest lesson was the only person’s behaviour I could control was my own, and if I was lucky, I could manage my children’s behaviour so they were aligned with whatever situation we were dealing with. I say, if I was lucky, because there are many kids and teenagers who quite frankly couldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone but themselves, and many of my friends, who are often single mums, don’t have control over their children. I don’t hold them accountable, because if a teenager or child adamantly does not want to be controlled there is very little you can do especially if you are in this war on a daily basis and alone. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and negatively judge other people’s behaviour without any understanding of what they are dealing with in real life. Kids can be fuckers.
So now we find ourselves in what can only be described as a prolonged pandemic deployment, where our lives will be controlled by social distancing until a vaccine is discovered. At this stage, today 20th April 2020, we are now in week 4 of a loose lockdown, as we are privileged to be able to exercise daily, which is a great source of freedom, unlike countries such as, Spain and Italy.
Many people have had to make some difficult choices, which means they are isolated away from their closest connections and because of these choices it’s causing pandemic panic and anger at everyone else, who they perceive to be in breach of the very ambiguous rules. I think this panic is partly fed by a lack of understanding of what a post lockdown world will look like. Life will not return to normal until herd immunity (if that is even possible) or a vaccine is available. This is not a case of staying in for the next three weeks and life will return to normal and we can go about our business and reconnect with our families in the same way. All we are doing is slowing down the contamination and until we have a way of controlling the virus it will always present a threat. Life will never be the same and if you cannot sustain the choices you have made for a minimum of 18 months then it is time to reconsider those choices and follow a new path.
Adaptation and agility is the key to survival. Adaptation will be much harder for the densely populated parts of civilisation. The virus spreads through contact and densely populated cities, such as London, which are over crowded become contamination hubs for the disease. Global economies are circular and they rely on circulation in order to keep the money moving around the system. The virus breeds on humans in close contact moving from place to place which means that densely populated societies are at the heart of the spread. Crowded public transports systems are disease breeding grounds. Until we find a vaccine we will need to reconsider how we evaluate success. Profit and GDP should no longer be barometers for success; but instead societies should consider human health and well being as a barometer of societal wealth. However, greed prevails and I suspect I am simply thinking wishfully.
During this time I feel it’s important to consider our personal and individual choices. The only element of control is what we, as individuals, have over ourselves, and if we are lucky our immediate family. How we respond, adapt and manage this new life is the key to sanity. The virus is capitalism’s worst enemy as you can’t see it, it won’t be bought and you can’t blow it up. The only response is to starve it of contact with other humans to slow down the spread. As time passes, the greatest toll will be on our mental health. Humans are cyclical creatures and we require rhythm, routine and human contact to keep us sane. Having our liberties eroded drives us inward and self reflection can be darkening as well as enlightening.
Ironically, my 12 year old daughter is struggling the most with the restrictions. She is missing her contact with horses as we don’t own horses and she is missing her friends. Hagar too, is not enjoying the sense of lack of control and the invisibility of the virus – it unnerves him when he is out. He can’t see it, shoot it or battle it. My teenage son with ADHD is used to lack of control. He hated being at boarding school and just loves being at home, and of course, he manages his condition daily. He is in high demand with his friends and is constantly connected on Facetime chats day and night. If you are a teenager and you want to talk endless shite on hours on end then a kid with ADHD is your perfect buddy. He has them lining up to listen to the infinite stream of consciousness that falls from his brain to his mouth.
I am ok. I am used to living within restricted boundaries and groundhog day routines. I used to work summer seasons abroad which were months on end in the same place endlessly working, with limited outside resort life. I am used to being forced to acquiesce to the demands of the military mistress and an unhappy childhood in an emotional void have prepared me well for the current restricted routines. I feel pleased that we live in the countryside, that we have great bike rides on our doorstep and spring is springing. We are following the guidelines and making the most of the lockdown. We are busy. We are not living in the heart of the pandemic and we are lucky to have enough personal space for everyone. I know this is not the case for many. But I think it’s important to consider that the only behaviour we can control is our own. This pandemic is with us for a while. If you can’t cope with your choices then now is the time to reconsider them so you can bed in for the long haul. Normal life will not resume anytime soon. Stay safe.