These will not constitute a day to day report on life during the Lock down. Consider what follows a consolidation of thoughts and ideas, presented as a journal.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
I live alone. Not by myself but most certainly alone. My bolt-hole consist of a lovely apartment buried deep into one of Westville’s many hills, above which is the house my landlord and their two, incredibly loud children, live. Were one to travel further up the Sisyphean driveway, you will find another house occupied by my landlord’s in-laws; further still, an apartment within which resides a Malawian woman who is deathly afraid of snakes. All in all, we are one mad preacher away from being a true compound. It is, however, still early.
Thursday the 26th of March 2020 will forever be remembered by South African’s as the day their individual worlds changed. For me, it was my birthday. I was lucky enough to squeeze in some last-minute shopping (one link of chorizo and a bit of feta before you raise your eyebrow) and a delightful dinner with my family before returning home. I intend to continue my work, writing and general asshattery throughout all of this. After all, this is my space. Let Rome in Tiber melt and all that.
A new word: during the lead up to the Lockdown, I had several chats with some of my former students. One, who I remember fondly for his quick wit and never showing up for hockey practice (not once the, mufathias), introduced me to a new term: Panic Meat. It is the unnecessary meat you keep in your freezer for… reasons.
An observation: the dumb shit people have bought believing the world is about to end. Absolutely nobody in history has patrolled the isles of Checker’s looking to get their corned meat fix. Nobody goes to bed at night dreaming of sandy-textured faux-cow poverty-pate. But the moment a Pangolin starts coughing and people decide that Checker’s Brand Corned Beef (Now with up to 40% REAL MEAT™) is an essential part of the food pyramid. Given their contents, one of those cans likely carries the next plague anyway. I hope the dozens you have bought stare at you from your pantry unopened, reminding you how much of an onion you are.
There are other victims to human stupidity than toilet paper.
A lot of people have asked me why I didn’t load my car and stay with my family. I wont lie, it was hard to resist their offer. A large house, a bigger fridge and an estate where I could foreseeably run in the small hours without fear of infection/infecting/my-own-guilt. Hunkering down with Mom and Dad would have likely been the comfier option but hey, I am an adult man and I moved out years ago. Sometimes you just gotta tough it out as an individual you know? Besides, I have what I need, which includes better WiFi and a litigiously terrible search history. My books are all here and Mom is limited to one telephonic “are you okay?” a day. Worrying about her boobie drives the woman mashugs.
An aside: outside my window, my landlord has decided to do obedience training with his Boxer whose human name is Jackson but whose dog name is closer to Earl or simply the letter “D”. My landlord is a patient man and is diligently repeating his command. I have mentioned before that Jackson is an entity not known for intelligence. He is currently responding to obedience training by heavily breathing and forgetting which end he smells out of. The only reason Jackson is still alive is because he doesn’t have fingers to lick and stick into plug sockets.
I have established my own set of rules for the coming weeks. Chief among them is that my working week remains untouched. I was one of the lucky ones – people who already worked from home – so my systems and habits are already well entrenched. The biggest draw-back is my inability to leave the house for the limited social interaction gym afforded me. I am at peace with my own company, something I doubt would have been the case even a year ago. Another blessing no doubt.
A close acquaintance of mine raised an interesting point which I have been thinking about this afternoon. Why is it with this incredible opportunity to do so, people are not resting? Sadly, dear reader, all I have are theories, but if you will permit me the time, I wouldn’t mind starting a dialogue on the subject.
From the off we are told to work. School is a system of years where we are engineered to become more and more useful as we age. Some of us, hard-work and finances willing, continue to improve our usefulness to society. We are taught that being a perpetual-motion machine of output is the highest form of living.
But relaxing, that is something nobody ever teaches you. It is contrary to our nature to learn how to relax as that would be learning to be un-useful. This, we have been told all our lives, is very bad. Though, I do believe that isn’t the whole problem.
How many people have met themselves?
Our day-to-day existence is a series of distractions from ourselves. The needs of work, chores, labor and relationships distance ourselves from the need to inwardly reflect and analyze the scared animals prowling within out chests.
A lot of people now only have that animal for company.
It would be terrifying. How many people constantly fall short of their own internal standards so as not to really like who they are? Those aforementioned day-to-day lives stop us from ever having to confront themselves. Now, locked up in their homes, people are looking to escape from having to do that. Ask anyone who has suddenly become unemployed and finds themselves alone at home with nothing to do, how quickly they become their own worst enemy.
A lot of people are moaning about being unable to exercise properly at home. Honestly, being cooped up in a small space without equipment is something of an exciting challenge for me. Necessity is the mother of invention, with the last two days having found me becoming the Nikolai Tesla of workouts. I am most proud of PLANK™, an ancient piece of wood which has become as vital to my home gym routine as steroids to national rugby. My Virgin Active membership is in danger of being replaced by a Builders Warehouse account. I am going to leave quarantine with mad guns and splintered hands. This may make the lonely nights complicated though.
For the rest there is Youtube, and a succession of sentient vests with tutorials on how to stay fit at home.
It is a beautiful evening, and I find myself drawn to the allure of lighting a fire and convincing some chicken pieces to taste delicious with minimal effort. The birds are making cheerful noises, which is perhaps as good as sign as any, that there are still pretty things out there for people to enjoy.