The World Is Quiet Here

Posted Fri 18 Mar
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Everyone found the (ongoing, still) pandemic hard. I am not going to deny, or belittle that. How could I? Why would I? Life is hard enough without there being a deadly virus roaming the planet. This though is not about the world.

This is my story.

It does not need qualified or ranked. It does need someone who has had it worse to pitch in, for I know those people. There is no hierarchy of victims. It is all ‘lived experience’ these days, isn’t it? You reality trumps all others, no? When did everyone get so hyper-defined? Choose your flag and fly it, seems to be the replacement of a personality. No matter.

This is my turn.

Back when it all started, I forget the date now, I was asked ‘you used to work at home. How did you manage?” Of course, that is easy to answer; Back then I could go out places, I wasn’t isolated. I saw friends, I went to pubs, I attended and gave talks. Three years I worked from home, from the shed at the bottom of my garden. And you know, life didn’t stop.

And then it did.

Once the world got over the initial shock, there was an outpouring of hobbies. People taking up bread making. People taking up sewing. People taking up the things they hadn’t before, and always wanted to. There was the rise of the YouTube stars, the home makers and home shakers, the bright and beautiful people being bright and beautiful as ever. Cute atomic families harmonising, cute couples raising dogs, cute lifestyles on display everywhere. I was told it must be great for me, with all my myriad of Things I Do™, now I had the time.

And then I didn’t.

The entire opposite happened. And is still happening. Everything for me slowed. Then slowed more. While others lost their physical taste, I lost something. Not my ability, nor my capacity. Not even the want. It all just slowed, never coming to an entire standstill. Put on slight pause. An internal holding of breath, that this would blow over and I could return to schemes, dreams, plans and exploits.

I no longer had a life, I had a routine.

The slowing turned into a ceasation, I guess. Not entirely, just all the extra fun bits. Making electronics, stopped. Making clothes, stopped. Running, stopped. (That one is slightly unfair due to some health issues that took a while, and an operation, to get sorted out.) Even observing nights got less. (This one is also slightly unfair, due to the past years being the most cloudy I have in my logs.) Reading, music, cooking, everything above a certain baseline. Stopped. At some point. And with an admission. Stopped.

The frayed edges of habit erode routine.

Life does, however, continue. We adopted an old dog, who was expected to live six months or so, and we would give him a restful few months. In the end, he lived a fine and enjoyable two years with us, even as we watched him wind down to the end. I missed saying goodbye to Tycho on his last day, but I was there when Kai left the world. We haven’t yet adopted another old dog, but we will. In all probability it will be another Staffie, too.

The world doesn’t wait for me.

I also changed job during the pandemic (to somewhere I should have know better to avoid, given I nope-ed out of them about a decade ago), if only to prove I could. It was, evidently, more than just that, but moving from where I was once hyper-creative (that got stifled) to somewhere I am not creative at all added to the suspended state of being. Who knew I am good at being creative, driving and building, helping and instigating? And when some of that is taken, it all looks a bit different. The advantage of being a competent coder and technical innovator allowed me to continue to work, not be furloughed. All I need, and have done for decades, is a laptop and a net connection. And the freedom to be employed from the neck up. Why would you employ me, of all people, to micro-manage and direct and stifle? Let me do the melding of research, fun and production code that makes money. Still, I am, I believe, look upon favourably. Aside from the internal pressure of feeling I am getting too old for this all, but can’t stop working. We are all four pay cheques away from being homeless after all. If they had sentenced me to twenty years of boredom, I’m well past that now. I have forgotten more than I ever learned.

I’m not waiting for me.

That said, I’ve started to crank the handle a little. I’ve read a lot more over the past six months. I’ve started to mess around with some AI code projects again. I intend on setting up the sewing machine, if only to shame me as I walk past it, and make something soon. I done some field recordings that should be tunes. I’ve been out on walks with the binoculars, enjoying the trees and the birds. Turns out the job market is hyper-bouyant, and it shouldn’t be much to shift to somewhere I can be creative, productive and interested in again. Many conversations are happening. Even looking at my draft folder, there are half a dozen vignettes over the past three years. I’ll rework some of them. Oh, the things you’ve missed. Or I’ve missed writing about. I also used to like that. There is no song threaded through this post. I almost did that. Maybe the next one, when I have something less self-indulgent to write about. Not that anything here was ever anything but.

You can’t hold your breath forever.

I think, once again, I almost have plans.

The world is different here.

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