- “It was Blaise Pascal who said that all the troubles of humanity came about because of the difficulty men had in simply being happy to sit alone in their rooms.” – Nicholas Lezard
- Back to the morning walks today. Setting out at dawn, the world is much quieter. Given the strange situation, I seem much more aware of the world. Today, I was shocked by a scent of some flowers (Google lens tells me that they were Berberis Darwinii). The sea was calm and I regretted not going out with swimming gear. Despite the ongoing horror, the world seems so beautiful right now.
- My retreat deepens as I continue to avoid the news. I do read longform articles about the crisis when they turn up on RSS, appreciating the calmer analysis, away from liveblogs and suggested articles.
- I’d been thinking about moving away to the country when this is over, but I guess a lot of people are thinking the same, as Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s says in her article Coronavirus has tainted city life. I had the option of heading to the countryside for lockdown, but I still think I made the right choice to see this out at home. I’d just rather my home was surrounded by a garden where I could walk freely.
- CJ Stone wrote a nice piece on choosing retreat over lockdown: “I’m not, however, in lockdown. I’m meditating. I’m on retreat. I’ve become a hermit in my own home… We’re being made to look inwards. And the really interesting thing about this is that, when you look inside yourself, you find everyone else there too.“
- I’ve also appreciated the thoughtful posts and podcast interviews by Gordon White from Rune Soup. I disagree with a lot of what he writes about coronavirus, but it’s good to see other views. His recent post A Better World is No Longer Optional talked about the economic effects, as well as how Amazon is pushing out smaller, localised companies.
- Talking with my friend Helen, we discussed the need not to touch our noses while outdoors. I have the perfect thing to help this: my clown nose!
- I feel a little guilty at how comfortable I am at the moment. I have the routine of work, and lots of fun activities to keep me occupied. My parents seem to be safe in isolation, so I’m making the most of the solitude, while being aware of how quickly things could shift.
- I’ve not watched or read news in the last 24 hours. There is going to be little of comfort there, and it’s not going to change my behaviour, so there’s no point.
- One thing that shocked some people was the announcement in Monday’s daily briefing that it could be six months before life gets back to normal. This was an unhelpful statement, as it did not provide details. I’d be surprised if we were on full lockdown between now and the end of September – even Wuhan was only under strict measures for about two months. But, if it’s to be six months, then so be it.
- The weekend was mostly good. It was nice to have a break from work, and the job provides structure during the week – although it does tire me out. I’ve not had the energy spare for volunteering yet, but will try to do something next weekend.
- Despite not being able to go out, not needing to commute etc, I don’t know of anyone who’s feeling a time dividend right now. Life sometimes feels just as busy as it did before, which is a useful lesson.
- My sleep is settling down now. I still wake early, but I’m managing to get back to sleep again. Life feels a lot easier with enough sleep.
- It’s also useful to be paying so much attention to how I work. I’m finding that it’s too easy to be half-hearted and distracted with mutli-tasking. Sitting down and focussing on writing for an hour this morning was joyful and exciting. Given the choice between deep work and multi-screening, the deep work feels much richer.
- Zoom still doesn’t function as a proper social life, but it was good to catch up with some friends at an Open House. It would be even better to see them in real life.
- I took an evening walk today, having slept in, and it was almost oppressively busy, with the joggers paying no attention to social distancing. Still, one advantage was bumping into Emily and Sooxanne. In each case we stopped and chatted at a two meter distance. Strange times, but so lovely to see them.
Let’s pretend this month has been normal.
It’s been a stressful month in a lot of ways, but I have it relatively easy. My house is calm, work continues without interruption, and I make sure to be grateful for what I have.
My walking has been a regular 10,000 steps a day since the new routine was put in place. However some manic walking before lockdown pushed my stats up very high for the month. I walked a total of 524,200 steps, which is a daily average of 16,909. My record was 60,084 on a frantic hike the weekend before lockdown. My lowest was 10,115, just 3 more than my target. I keep walking, and long to be able to do a proper walk again.
I finished seven books this month, all but one of them in the first half of the month – my concentration is not good right now. Lavie Tidhar’s By Force Alone was entertaining, although a little longer than it needed to be. I loved the mix of Arthuriad with samples from action movies I re-read Justin Hopper’s excellent The Old Weird Albion, and an early copy of Ben Graham’s North Country Rock. Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West deserves a post of its own – many of the concerns it talks about feel more present in this new world.
Like last month I saw just three movies. The Jay and Silent Bob reboot was OK, Nightbreed a little frustrating. Netflix hit The Platform was very on-the-nose in the current situation.
I’m continuing to write, working on a new project about the South Downs Way. I’ve had my first feedback on this – it needs work, but I think it is going to be good. I should have a first zine of this out this month.
One of the good things about blogs and journals is looking back at old entries and being able to see how one has changed or not. I re-read some Seasonnotes from 2014. I was shocked to see I’d been talking about needing to get out of my rut in Brighton six years ago. I need to pay more attention to these things, and mke sure to produce actual change in my life. Once the current crisis ends, I will work towards leaving Brighton. And, more generally, if I cannot change my habits now, I never will.