An isolated walk in Wicklow just before shutdown. I miss this.

What happens when this is over?

It’s a question that haunts me right now. Humans, of course, are hugely resilient. As a broader society, at least, we’re capable of overcoming war, famine, economic collapse and, yes, disease. We’ve seen it all before.

That said, the reality now is dark and difficult. I went shopping yesterday, a necessary evil that I hate to the point it makes me feel het-up and uncomfortable for the entire day I have to go. Then I head out, with a mask wrapped across my face as I pace slightly understocked aisles and try to feed a family for as long as I can. We’ve stretched it out to 10 days or so per shop, now, with a vegetable delivery arriving in a cardboard box in between.

But we’re the lucky ones, of course. Our combined potential exposure to the virus is minimal. We’re able to exist in a frustrating but functional cocoon of our own making, restrained by four walls but certainly not threatened by them, or forced to go outside and carry on like millions of others. We might end up another number of the 3 million people who already have, or have had, corona, or the more than 200,000 who have died globally. We know we’re privileged, because that chance is relatively small.

But it’s hard not to mourn what’s gone, too. Not just the people, though that’s devastating, but also the lifestyle. Humans are instinctively social, after all. Things like going to sports games, just one of a crowd, or travelling fairly freely around Europe every so often, or spending a weekend back home with family, or cinema, or gigs, bars, those are normal parts of my life. And it’s spurious to mourn them in this context, but it’s also very, very hard not to.

I’m bored with this screen, and bored with how essential it has become to my life, and while there are positives to being with the family so much, all our moods fluctuate with the strain of the thought processes behind this all, and the destruction of our everyday lives. Nobody knows what will be next: will there be a vaccine at some point? Will we slowly develop a form of herd immunity that ultimately takes a huge number of lives? When will I next see the rest of my family, who are an hour flight away? Will life ever be quite the same?

We’re due to reopen in a week, though I think it would be fair to say that the whole country knows that this will probably just be another date in the calendar to push back, a day after a strange bank holiday that just feels like another day, except without the need to log back into work remotely on the Monday morning.

There was a time when I loved being challenged, away from normality. I did things like moving to South Korea on my own, or travelling in very rural China without a word of Chinese, or going to North Korea despite the obvious inherent risk, and drinking too much soju while I was there. The difference, I guess, was knowing that normality still existed somewhere else.

This is challenging. We’re nearly 50 days in, and the world has changed, perhaps forever. I guess we need to see where this goes.


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