Second time better?

The last month of Autumn and Christmas is fast approaching, but we find ourselves in another lockdown. I have to confess, I wanted to write this article when we (in the UK) entered our first lockdown, but through a mixture of being busy with my final year at university and a fair dose of procrastination, I did not write it. So here is attempt number two.  

At the beginning of the lockdown, I thought I was in the midst of a paradigm shift. One which everyone would begin to change their business and consuming habits away from China, which should/would be held accountable for its part in the Covid crisis, and producing nationally and buying closer to home. One where you would see a renaissance in ideas of autarky, self-reliance and the retreat of globalism, something which the virus was exposing the flaws of.  

In amongst this prospective macro shift, I hoped I would see another, smaller, but still important change. A change in habits and behaviour. With millions of us on furlough, in our homes, time on our hands and all the technology of today at our fingertips, I longed for a country to take the opportunity to come back better and stronger. To find hobbies, be productive, relish the outdoors and exercise – something taken for granted pre-lockdown. Work on new skills, repairs, tidying, woodworking, cooking, painting, reading and learning. I was disappointed. I don’t know why, I guess I was just naive. Instead, during and after the first lockdown I heard stories of aimless binge watching, a complete collapse of order, routine and sense of time. A nation of sloths.  

When I could visit, I found dirty, messy houses. Although to be fair they were my fellow undergraduates so one should not be surprised. I am no less disappointed. If anyone had free time, it’s them. But even when every excuse is gone, people still can’t put themselves to the task of sorting things out and putting their house in order.   

For me lockdown proved rather advantageous. Near the end of my last year, I did not miss much and with no work, no gym (RIP) or friends calling to get pissed, I sat down and made fantastic progress on a dissertation sincerely in need of fundamental re-work. Yet, to my surprise (am I surprised?) many of my peers still could not do what was required, barely completing their work, even with the extra 10 working days automatic extension given to us. Two (dis)honourable mentions go to a couple of friends. One of whom did most of his dissertation in a month and the other in a week and still pulling off a 2:1.  

Where am I going with this? What is the point in my ranting? My point is on the missed opportunity. My point is that there is nothing worse than wasted potential and that I know one must conquer oneself before anything else. Lockdown gave us the opportunity to de-tox from a non-stop modern life of over-stimulation. One could organise a work life balance, catch up on outstanding tasks, have the time to prepare healthy home cooked food, pursue your passion and better oneself. Read a book, work on a language or any other project of interest.  

It is possible. My father worked on making marmalade and my mother baking. Toast in the morning and desserts in the evening were delicious and often indeed. People I know used the time to bond with family or invest in equipment for a home gym. My work, for example, re-organised and deep cleaned everything, ready for opening. The effort is worth it. But in an age of vice at every front, we, collectively, are dragged down by the lowest common denominator. These people succumb to every whim and pleasure in a formless pursuit of immediate gratification.  

Now with the weather even poorer, I fear we will be stuck by our TV’s, tablets, phones and computers more than last time. So, how about not then? Let us fight the forces of loth and drift. Let us use an entire month to get better, cleverer and stronger, ready for Christmas and the new year. Let us finish 2020 like a boxing round. Bloodied and swollen we endure and remain standing with the ring of the bell. Start 2021 with our chin up and shake off the madness of the past year. The 20’s can still be a good decade.  

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