Thursday 16th July 2020 21:00
It’s been a chilly grey sort of day mostly, but at about three the sun came out, and I settled in my favourite spot tucked away in the ‘back’ garden, with my notebook and timer. A bit of (rather late!) morning page brain dumping, and now here I am musing on where I go from here. Not literally go – I still haven’t ventured more than a few yards from my front door; four months and counting. But where do I go with my life.
Woah, deep stuff! Well, I suppose so, but not necessarily. More practical than deep at this point. The virus situation as I see it, while we may be in a lull at the moment, is inevitably going to get worse again. People here generally seem to be thinking and behaving as if it’s all gone away – which of course is just what it needs to spread again! And a resurgence in the not too distant future, even if it’s not until the winter, is absolutely inevitable. Nothing I can do about that but keep myself safe, and accept I won’t be making any (barring emergencies) trips out in the world for some considerable time to come. So I really do now need to up my game working on something – or several somethings – from home.
I’ve been utterly preoccupied for almost the whole time of this largely self imposed lockdown, on staying as safe as I can, on keeping bang up to date with the science and the facts of the pandemic, and latterly on preparing for what might come next as best I can (ie building up stocks of essentials, not so much because I think things will become unavailable again – although I think it’s a real possibility – but more because I think deliveries will be hard to come by once more as we head into another surge and it gets dangerous out there again). So The Big Shed is filling up nicely with all manner of essentials, and I’m able to ease off worrying too much about not having anything to eat. I have masks of various kinds in case I need to go anywhere that demands the wearing of one (although of them all, I still find my old substantial diy dust mask the most comfortable, sadly now probably more likely to exacerbate my asthma with the ingrained dust, than protect me from anything). I also have a little solid brass ‘dolphin’ on a retractable cord that I can use to press buttons and open doors. And plenty of 70% alcohol hand gel.
So in a practical sense, I’m well on the way to being prepared for another six months of self sufficiency.
Now I need to work on my mental health.
That isn’t so good.
I have to be honest with you, I haven’t been doing so well mentally. I’ve been utterly dismayed by the selfish irresponsible behaviour that seems to have come to the fore, globally, but also very much in my immediate surroundings, and deeply disappointed and saddened by a few people who I’ve thought of as friends, who’ve also behaved with stupidity, and a dangerous irresponsible selfishness that I would never have attributed to them.
And I’ve listened to myself ranting and raving, begging other friends who think it’s enough to “follow the government guidelines”, to be careful, to stay safe, to understand the risks! And I’ve tried not to be hurt when one by one they’ve stopped calling. I understand: they don’t want to hear about my fears. When they ask how I am they don’t want to know…
I’ve felt more aware as the weeks have gone by of having to get through this completely on my own, and I’ve felt afraid every waking moment of every single day (and have dreamt of being afraid every night).
I know for me, the virus is still as deadly as it’s always been. It may be less prevalent just at the moment, but it only takes one contact with it. So I’m staying put for the foreseeable. Which makes the question of making a living an even tougher one. And I’ve put it to one side for far too long now.
So thinking cap firmly back on again then.
Garden story planning. How can I tweak Drawing4Health to be something other than the thing it was centred around being – ie to not be about free public gatherings to draw and swop materials together? What other possibilities are there? Can I bear to go back to IT stuff? Try to put simple tech skills teaching online? Aaargh, it really isn’t what I want these last working years to be about. I’ve done it. It was fantastically well timed back in the nineties for me. It gave me the means to run my own business, and made me a good living. But I’m way behind on my knowledge, and I just don’t care enough to use all my time trying to keep up to date now. It’s who I was. It’s not who I am now. But can I afford that cop out?
Last weekend I finally accepted that the cost of keeping my computer training business website out there just wasn’t justified. The local classes were long gone, and teaching people one-to-one in their own homes isn’t going to be viable again now. So I let it expire when the hosting and various versions of the domain came up for renewal, and I waved goodbye to The Reluctant Mouse and all the fun things I’d done with it. And then I let most of the small spaces domains go too. It means a saving of about £200 all told over a year. That’s a good few weeks’ groceries. My stomach will be grateful.
Somehow I have to move on. I have to do this utterly alone. No-one’s going to wave a magic wand. No-one is going to feed me. I’ve had 45 years of practice; how hard can it be? To just. Keep. Going.
Tomorrow the forecast is for more sunshine than we’ve had for a few days, so maybe I will find some inspiration sitting in my garden; maybe that “Got it!” moment will arrive. Maybe I’ll ring the doc, see if I can get some tablets to take away the gloom, and the loneliness. Maybe I’ll find ‘me’ again, and get through 24 hours without tears rolling down my cheeks for no reason.
Or maybe I’ll just concentrate on surviving again. Day 130. And order some more supplies…