It’s strange to think, as 2020 moves into middle age with widespread civil unrest, that a global pandemic would be the least dramatic thing to happen this year. The simulation appears to be glitching all over, and while the lockdown is easing up agonisingly slowly, most of us are still mostly locked in our houses.

Still, it’s important to focus on stoicism, do what you can, enjoy what you can, and make the most of things.

Here’s some of the lessons I’ve learnt, in no particular order.

You’re right to follow your gut

I’ve always had a habit of running speculative “what if” scenarios in my head, I find it quite an entertaining game to imagine what I’d do if some unexpected situation were to happen. Depending where it falls on the threat matrix, I often looked at what I could do to hedge against them to a greater or lesser degree.

For example, I have a grab bag with everything I need to survive for a few weeks and restart my life, ready to go. Not because of zombie apocalypse or collapse of civilisation, but because, for example, fires happen.

I routinely operate on the 10th man rule, so, if everyone and everything is telling me that it’ll all be fine, I speculate that maybe it won’t be. This habit has served me well in the past.

As a result, long before lockdown or the virus was even mentioned on mainstream news, I had already told family and friends to stock up on food and to renew their prescription medications. A few people called me paranoid, but I figured I was just being prudent.

Worst thing that could happen if you prepared and nothing happened? You’ve got a full larder. Worse thing to happen if something happened and you didn’t prepare….

You have millions of years of survival instincts behind that feeling in your gut. Listen to it, even if people are telling you not to.

Taking stock

The initial excitement settled into boring routine.

While in many respects, lockdown has been frustrating – everything shut down, twitchy dot people, shortages and queues – having a period of forced slowdown has actually been quite refreshing.

Like many of you, the change in routine has forced me to slow right down. Lockdown has made me take stock on where I am, and what I want to do next.

Early morning workout buddy

For a start, nobody is doing anything, so I was able to completely shake that feeling that I was somehow “missing out”. I can’t go anywhere, or do anything particularly exciting, but then neither can anybody else.

I’ve found it quite refreshing not feeling like I have to do anything.

We’ve all been made to slow down, enjoy the simpler things.

One thing, I’ve done more reading than I’ve done for a long while. I’ve gone down various rabbit holes of YouTube, learning random skills that I’ve been meaning to swot up on but never got the time to.

I have saved a bunch of money. Somehow. I suspect largely through not routinely going to the supermarket when hungry after work (since shopping these days is such an unpleasant experience, I’ve been only going when necessary, ordering a lot online, and actually planning meals).

The gym has been closed, so I’ve really focussed on training what I can, as well as diet. I have been extra disciplined (and not having office snacks), and as a result am now at my ideal competition fighting weight.

As things are starting to open up, I’ve spent more time with family and friends. But before that, one thing I’ve realised, through the weeks of solitude… I really do like being by myself.

What next..?

Not sure. 2020 is far from over, and stuff around the world just seems to be getting crazier and crazier.

I intend to keep up the good habits I’ve formed since lockdown – spending less on stuff I don’t need, training and diet.

I’ll still travel, of course, but I’ll also focus on simple pleasures. Family. Friends. Spending more time with other humans, even if I need to travel a long way to see them.

Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, remote work is going to be the new normal.

I’m definitely not going back to the office.

This is going to be a bit of a battle, but I’m prepared to stick my heals in on this one. I’ve been remote only for over a decade, and my short stint of being back in the office has reminded me just how much they suck – strip lit boxes almost designed to destroy your focus.

Contrast this with remote work and the quality of life improvements you get – freedom, more time, ability to cook a decent meal and train, even simple things like being able to be in for deliveries… oh, and not to mention being geographically independent, letting you travel and live cheap.

Speaking to my peers at work, as well as wider contacts in the industry… nobody in IT is going back to the office after all of this.

It’s a generational battle, in that the institutional members of the organisation seem to desperately want to get back to “normal” as it was in the “before time”.

But those times are gone. Holding out is only putting off the inevitable… if, for no other reason, that hiring talent (already a problem) is going to be impossible if you require them to be present in the office.

Skilled IT workers have had a taste of their life without the commute, spending time extra time with family and loved ones, and not having to sit all day at a desk under florescent lighting.

Another day in the office

I imagine that many of you out there reading this are in the same position as me, under de facto house arrest to delay the spread of the Chinese Coronavirus, COVID-19.

As states and entire countries place their citizens under “lockdown”, we are all force to put our entire lives on hold, and weather the storm of the pandemic.

As the initial concern transforms into a slouching and mundane routine, we are all forced to consider how our lives have all changed.

I consider myself very fortunate.

For the moment, myself and everyone I care about is still healthy (and long may I hope this continues). I read the winds accurately (and am always thinking of contingencies by way of an intellectual exercise) so I had stocked up on food (and yes, even toilet paper) months before this kicked off properly.

I also work in IT, so I am able to stay in the cocooned bubble that is my home and earn a living, safely, as the world convulses outside.

So far, all my problems are distinctly first world.

I’m not on the front lines in the medical profession, police or military. I’m not even one of those poor under appreciated shlubs risking their health, on minimum wage, to sell me my food, or ship me my deliveries.

No, the worst thing so far that I have to deal with is working out what to do, now that everything I want to do has been cancelled, and all the goals that I was working towards have been put on hold for the next year or two.

Got to do what you can, and if you really look at your plans, you can still do something. You can still do some training, even if you can’t go to the gym. You can still outline plans that you can put in motion as soon as circumstances permit.

Practice your stoicism. Explore new hobbies, or get back to old ones.

Or, just do fuck all.

Edit: Youtube video link corrected to the correct author – HT Mitch Benn, go check him out!

Like many people around the world in countries struggling to deal with with the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the state in which I’m currently living has put its entire population under a “lockdown”.

We are only meant to leave our houses for a set number of reasons – buying food, a short bit of exercise, a medical emergency – and when we do we’re meant to keep a strict minimum distance away from each other.

If the numbers are accurate and are to be believed regarding the mortality rate of Covid-19, I can understand the reaction. Things haven’t got bad here yet, and with the sun shining brightly outside it’s hard to picture the scenes from China or Italy happening anywhere near here.

But, knowing something of what is going on behind the scenes to prepare, as I do… I know the threat is real. Even if, as we all hope, it turns out to be nowhere near as virulent as feared.

The police are patrolling and even setting up checkpoints in order to check that anyone outside has a reason to be. They’re patrolling the cities with drones and helicopters.

I fully expect we’ll be required to produce some sort of documentation to be let out of our houses before long, like they are already doing in Europe (but at least they’re not welding us into buildings like in China, so thank heaven for small mercies).

I have an individualistic libertarian streak a mile and a half wide, and I find this (as well as people’s acceptance of the new world order) more disturbing than the virus threat. I had no problem with these measures when they were suggestions, but now they’re orders I find myself … deeply troubled.

Fundamentally, I recognise that this changes our relationship with the state at a very fundamental level. Our rights are no longer inalienable, they’re now granted to us by the state, and will be given back to us when those in charge deem it appropriate.

Troubling, and something I personally find more troubling than the virus. After all, history has taught us many many times that rights quickly surrendered will often take years (and more often than not, a whole lot of bloodshed) to get back.

I don’t know. I guess we’ll see how this plays out. Perhaps I’ll be singing a different tune when the bodies start stacking up in the street and people are collapsing all around me.

Perhaps this current state of emergency will be over relatively quickly, and the government will hand back the liberties it has taken from the people.

Right now I’m just thinking about hypotheticals… what if… but to those who say that I’m just being paranoid and you reason that it couldn’t happen here… well… who amongst you would have scoffed had I said to you at the beginning of this year that we’d all be stuck in lockdown right now?