First it must be said that I am in a very privileged position when we consider the lockdown scenario, the often extreme difficulty and pain people are facing, and all their ways of handling the crisis. Looking after our own health at this time is more important than ever, nowadays in mind as well as in body. Just like everybody else, I have had plenty of time to think about this and have even done a little work on my physical fitness joining the waking masses at least once a day.
Actually, for over 25 years I have been ‘working from home’. But I have had to organise my days and establish my own rhythm of work. There has never been much in the way of work routine for me, but until January this year my wife went out very day to work, and during her last years of employment I was committed to helping her handle those demands. I did the housework, cleaning and cooking, walking the dog and even some of the gardening!
Nowadays, both persons in our household are pretty much full-time members of the leisured classes, we can watch Netflix series all day if we so choose. I still have some work duties, but only a few teaching hours each week. So to fill my days, and (I came to realise recently) to stay out of my significant other’s way, I have spent time in front of the computer checking and deleting old files, and enjoying finding a lot of pictures that have been sitting on the hard drive for 15 years or more, forgotten and unappreciated.
Away from the infernal machine I have been reading some old spy story books that a friend dug out of a box in the cellar where they were waiting to be taken to the Christmas Bazaar! And in the middle of the night I have even wondered if I should try to write my own novel, now there’s so much time to spare.
I also have been remembering a book I had to read in school, Albert Camus’ Rutto, The Plague. It is a classic book of existentialism, and mainly describing 5/6 people’s very different ways of dealing with the deadly plague in their hometown of Oran in Algeria. One was an opportunist and tried to make money from the situation, another was a doctor committed to fighting to save lives despite the difficulties.
These virus times have changed the way most people work, travel and socialise. Apart from the limitation on my travelling it hasn’t changed much for the pensioner me, but for the young family next door or my aged mother in law in Lappeenranta, life may never be the same again. I have had ample time to ponder a range of pundits and social philosophers (from Alexander Stubb’s favourite,Yuval Harari, to the Australian environmentalist Paul Gilding) who have also been wondering if the world will ever be the same after the huge economic upheaval ahead.
When so much in the world is so uncertain it’s easy to forget that change also creates opportunity. I am embarrassed that one of the most serious questions for me at present is which new musical instrument I should start to learn in order to help fill that time on my hands! (Editorial note – he chose the violin, with a Greek teacher working online from Thessaloniki, phew!)
- Homo Deus (2015), and a long interview in Helsingin Sanomat on Easter Sunday – Yuval Harari
- The Great Disruption – Paul Gilding, (Bloomsbury 2011)