Some thoughts about COVID-19

29th May 2020

I'm one of the people least affected by this pandemic. I've got a stable job that can be done from home. I have a home. I have an immediate family in that home to give me purpose, sanity and grounding. I have hobbies to keep me occupied in the times that those two things don't.

So I'm extremely lucky (although a lot of that luck came about through circumstances that weren't accidental). But I've also learned a shit load over the past few weeks, and today just feels like the time to write them down to get them out of my head.

I am not a conservative (full disclosure: anymore)

When I voted for my first time at 18, I voted for the Liberal Democrats and was amazed that society as a whole didn't agree with what felt like the obvious answer to all of our problems as a country. Time passed, and I ended up running a business relatively accidentally. I morphed into a Conservative voter through the fact that I, like everyone I knew, wanted to pay less tax. I wanted the absolute best situation for myself, and the Conservative party told me they'd make that happen. I don't even think they were lying, I just didn't look beyond that selfishness to realise that the approach to getting the most for myself was under the proviso that everyone else had to get less.

What a crock of shit.

Success, health, happiness, kindness. These things aren't a zero sum game. For one person to be more successful doesn't require someone else to be less so. The same applies for health and happiness.

All that before we get to the recent activities of our Conservative government and the people I was once like that aren't looking beyond their nose. The amount of times I've read a sentence along the lines of "no-one has died who didn't have underlying health issues" over the past few months is ridiculous. So what? Not that it makes much difference, but my regular prescriptions for an inhaler for my (extremely mild) asthma would have me down under the same stat. I'm not worried about my susceptibility to die from this virus, but what if I did? Would those people, some of whom are extremely close to me, stick to the fact that I was expendable so that the local hairdresser could stay open? Fuck that, and fuck you if you've uttered that sentence.

The last general election was the first time since I was 18 that I voted any way other than Conservative. The fact that they don't care about you, me, or anyone else you know, is the reason I won't be voting for them again. I wish I'd grown as a person sooner than I have so that I could have avoided being a part of the problem.

Working from home rocks

Hayley and I felt crazy rough on what must've been the weekend of the 14th March, about 10 days before lockdown began. We can both work from home, and Hayley already did for the most part, so we took the decision to pull Eleanor from nursery and stay home to try to avoid spreading anything we might have to anyone else – just in case it was COVID-19. I'm not sure if we did have it, but all the symptoms were there and it felt like the right thing to do.

My boss was very accommodating in my request to work from home for the week. That's a funny sentence looking back, as we definitely believed it would only be a week. Here we are 11 weeks later. Anyway, I set up a bit of a home office and cracked on.

Holy productivity Batman!

It definitely could just be me, but the massive uplift in productivity for me felt amazing. I wasn't specifically getting more done, I was just able to get that same amount of stuff done to a higher level of quality. Far fewer interruptions just let me stay focussed on one task at a time for longer, which is great for someone who gets distracted so easily.

The bigger benefit, though, was that I was only 30 seconds away from Eleanor and Hayley at any given moment. It was like the first 4 months of Eleanor's life, when I was working from home as a consultant. When I need to pop in to make a coffee there she is for a cuddle. When I come in to have lunch, I can make hers too and we can eat it together. I'm sort of dreading her going back to nursery!

Video is great, but it isn't good enough

As much as being super close to the two of my closest family is amazing, being separated from the rest of them is as hard as you all know it to be. Funnily enough I've seen my Mum more that I would normally during this time, but it's always with that bit of delay or a dodgy connection, or without those social cues that don't quite come across in 2D. That and cuddling a screen means no-one else in the room can see it.

Video calls for meetings have been a revelation. Not having to spend 3 hours round trip heading into London for a pitch that is generally 50/50 at best is amazing. But I won't be trading in my in-person family and friends visits any time soon.

Learning is still possible

This is clearly a "durrr" moment for so many, but I've been really stagnant in self-development for at least 5 years. Maybe some of that is because I thought I knew everything I needed to know. Maybe it's just laziness. But this period of relative downtime has given the realisation that I don't know everything I want to know. I want to be better at the things I do professionally, and I want to do some new things professionally. I want to be better at being a parent. I want to be able to grow plants without them dying as soon as I either water or don't water them. I want those things and so many more.

I've made a dent in a few these past weeks, and I'm looking forward to continuing to be excited about learning again.

I can't wait for this to be "over", but I won't rush to pretending it is

I have already mentioned that I can't wait to see my family. Most everyone feels the same. But that isn't a good enough answer to the question "why are we loosening lockdown restrictions when the number of new cases per day is not falling?". The correct answers to those questions are:

  1. Because that helps shift some recently uncomfortable headlines
  2. Because the government doesn't care about sacrificing some people with "underlying health issues" (who have families, and no reason to die) so that they can placate those who try their best to circumvent paying taxes. Get the businesses open, get the voters happy.

Neither of those are good enough answers, so I'll be staying in apart from food shopping and running (as far away from others as I can). Not because I'm scared, as the common narrative seems to be against anyone who shares these views, but because a cuddle with my family isn't important enough for someone else to never be able to do the same to theirs.

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© Jason Dilworth 2022