If you had told me on March 13, 2020, that I was done traveling for at least the next thirteen months, and that I’d be working from home every day during that time, I’d have probably been shocked at first. I thought we were just going to shut down for a couple of weeks until the virus was under control? But then once I accepted that it wasn’t so, and I suppose maybe if you gave me the additional bit of info that I’d be incredibly fortunate, and that neither I nor anyone in my closest circles would become seriously ill, I’d probably have started thinking about possibilities. Endless possibilities.
I’d have thought about how much running I’d do. How much music I could play and write. Taking ten or fifteen strokes off my golf game. So many books to read. The writing I could crank out, projects around the house I could bang out, and maybe even some other long-planned but never accessible new hobby or practice I could adopt. What a gift this time would be, and what a year I’d have! There’d be a new me just thirteen months down the road.
That last part did indeed come true. A new me sits here tonight. A me who, after a couple of initial fits and bursts of activity last spring, collapsed, atrophied, and utterly surrendered to entropy. Someone who quit running entirely for two months this winter and still hasn’t gotten back to it meaningfully. Someone who quit lifting entirely. Someone for whom a guitar is a foreign feeling chunk of wood in his hands, who’s written a few hundred words here and there, who didn’t really do jack shit for thirteen months. None of it happened. In fact, everything went the other way—backwards.
Most nights, after work, I open a beer or whiskey, or three, and sit here mindlessly consuming short-form news stories. God knows I don’t have the attention span to get through a book, or even a podcast1. Recently I noticed my tendency to absentmindedly put a hand on my growing belly, sort of the way pregnant women do, except without any of the associated beauty and charm, or implications about new life. Everywhere I look I’m trapped in a negative feedback loop. I suck at the guitar, so picking it up isn’t fun. This leads to sucking harder. You can extend the principle to any and all of the other would-be activities during this era. Fuck it. Open another beer. At last now there’s baseball on TV to kill the hours.
And yes, I know of the vast research and writing out there encouraging us all to take it easy on ourselves for what we’ve been through. I’m sure there are others who find comfort or satisfaction in that sort of thing, and I’m happy for them. But that’s one part of me that didn’t change as a result of the pandemic. My ability to beat myself up for underachieving, and for squandering my myriad gifts and opportunities, long predates this virus. I never understood self-kindness. It’s good to see that some things never change, I suppose.
I got my second vaccination yesterday. Pfizer. I had to drive over an hour to a clinic down in some county where people don’t care if they die in fealty to their tangerine god-king, which is a whole ’nother story I don’t have energy for at the moment, either. The shot knocked me right on my ass last night. I ended up calling in sick to work and sleeping most of today away. Work won’t mind. As far as they’re concerned, the sooner I’m safe to start traveling again, the better. Those wheels don’t grease themselves, you know.
I hope this is the moment to take stock and start over. I hope it’s the time to grab the opportunity before me to make a new start, and shake off the overwhelming malaise of the last 56 weeks. Maybe now I’ll get my ass out of this chair and do something, anything, to reclaim some part of my old life which, while far from perfect, at least had some interesting, shiny facets to look at now and then. I’ve got such a long way to go to get back to sea level, though. Sitting here tonight, admittedly still with a bit of a headache as my immune system works out the assault perpetrated upon it yesterday, I am having a hard time seeing how to get this thing rebooted.
Anyway. I don’t feel much like a beer tonight, but I am gonna go see how the Sox are doing.
I hate podcasts. ↩︎