We moved out here to Canada, as I’m sure you’re sick of me saying, back in 2009. To keep our relatives and friends up to date with contact details and health news etc, we sent emails every couple of days with photos attached. Before long, it became obvious that this would be horribly intrusive – who wants a two page screed on the things we have been doing, complete with pictures, turning up in their email while they’re going along with their regular life? We’re hanging out in Stanley Park, or riding the Seabus, or going up Grouse Mountain, while they’re paying the gas bill and doing the school run. It was no fun for our friends to be continually pestered with how great things were for us.
Like a lot of people in similar situations, we turned to Facebook. We could post a bunch of pictures at a time, and people could choose to look at them or not. If we got too irritating, they could cut us out completely.
After a while, though, we heard about ‘The Facebook Effect”, where people are made to feel inferior to their friends, because their own lives don’t look as interesting as the images posted by their friends. Of course, people only post the Good Stuff on Facebook, so logically you KNOW their lives aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s hard to remember that as you click through photo after photo of smiling, happy people in their beautiful house etc etc.
So, now we come to the pandemic. People are hunkered down in their homes, and the truth is that we’re all knocked sideways by this. We don’t know for sure how long it’s going to last, what the true outcome of the whole thing is going to be, how life is going to be changed from now on…. It’s a lot. And what your daily life looks like varies tremendously from person to person. Mrs Dim is working from home, via Zoom, and phone and email, and her working day is still pretty much 9-5, but in the study with the door closed, rather than in her office on the top of the mountain. I was stood down from work because delivering library materials to the elderly and sick would have been EXTREMELY irresponsible, but I couldn’t exactly work from home either. I was encouraged to stay in touch with the Library and take online courses, but after a couple of weeks, I was officially laid off. Now I am overseeing Tiny Weasel’s online education (nagging, that’s what I’m doing. “Do your work, log on to the chat, watch the video, write the essay.” It’s about as effective as you’d expect.) Eldest Weasel just took her Finals and is now on break until the Summer Term starts, and Middle Weasel is still doing shifts at the Bakery.
So, some people have more time on their hands, some people actually have less – if your kids are usually at school or daycare and now they’re home, someone has to be responsible for them. It wasn’t long before the social media sphere was alive with things you “ought” to be doing with your “spare time”. Learn a new language, learn a musical instrument, do the gardening, write a novel, watch all the TV….
This is the COVID Effect. Because we don’t necessarily have more time, and we don’t necessarily have more capacity. Mrs Dim keeps saying “Ok, I think this is normal now, I think I understand…” but I don’t think that’s true. I think the reality of what we’re dealing with comes and goes in waves. One day you’re fine with it, you can race through your “Must Do” list and tick some things off your “Want to” list. Other days…Other days it’s enough to be out of bed and fed. Back when I stopped going in to work, I started a 12 week course, and skipped through the first six weeks’ content in a week. I also started learning to use Blender, the 3d modelling program, by following YouTube Tutorials. But the pace of learning with both these courses has slowed. Arguably, I have more time now, and things should have settled down, but some days the energy, the enthusiasm, just isn’t there.
Over the past few weeks, we have done some DIY. We’ve done some gardening. I’ve done a “Monday Challenge” three weeks in a row for the family, silly challenges that take a half-hour at lunchtime. Some things we’ve posted pictures of on our Social Media, and some we haven’t. We have relatives in countries that are under a stricter lockdown than we are here in BC, and it seems unfeeling to post pictures of a freer life, whatever our true motivation.
I’m not going to be able to play the piano by the time we’re through all this (we don’t have a piano, which is a big obstacle there…). I’m not going to be able to speak Mandarin, and I doubt I will ever finish making this 3d doughnut. And I’m ok with all that.
Whatever you might want to do, or have to do, I hope you remember to be kind to yourself. That this isn’t normal, no matter how long it lasts. That no one is demanding that you come out the other side with anything but your sanity intact. And if there is something you’ve been planning to do, take this: