Considering my original intention to make this an optimistic blog about hope for a better decade, I am struck by the amount of miserable crap I’ve written so far. So, sorry about that, and here I am being optimistic. This is a struggle but I am going to put forward some reasons to be cheerful about the current cocktail of nightmares we call life.
1. It is easier to save money
Those of us fortunate enough to be employed during Covid, have found that working from home means by implication saving money. The amount of money I used to waste on lunch breaks and coffees and bus fares before Covid was ridiculous. Now I make my own coffees instead of spending £3 a cup for a frothy latte twice a day. My lunches are free, and instantly available from the fridge or the cupboard. And then we have the various cancellations of expenses; gym memberships, holidays, etc. All of these add up to a saving which one hopes can be well and truly spent when the crisis eases in the UK (as I remain optimistic it will, some day).
2. We have more thinking time
Without the hustle and bustle of daily commute and office life, it is far easier to find a bit of headspace and think about things. As I sit working remotely on my computer I find that the loneliness of the desk is more than compensated by the peaceful view of rooftops and birds. It is far easier to find a bit of reflective time than it ever was pre virus. This time can be used to realign one’s thoughts and figure out what’s important in life. Or just to binge watch Netflix.
3. Physical appearance doesn’t matter so much
Let yourself go. Now’s the time. A lockdown is the perfect moment to try stupid stuff with your face and body because nobody will ever see you like that. Put on weight. Grow a beard. Shave your head. Experiment with wacky shirts. Why not? I have been attempting to grow a stylised beard. I have looked awful at times, gaunt and tired, but it really didn’t matter because I am staying at home and not seeing anyone except my wife and kids, who don’t really count(!).
4. Christmas is easier
So let’s think about last Christmas (December 2020). We couldn’t travel to see family. We couldn’t deliver presents to in-laws, or allow them to visit us. We couldn’t organise who we see for a drink, when, or make sure we don’t piss off the wrong relatives by seeing a different relative on their only free day. It was bliss. I can honestly say that Christmas during Covid was the best and most fun for a long time. We just had a great family day at home with the kids and no worries about going anywhere or seeing anyone. It was easy. The annual stress was gone. I loved it.
5. Digital entertainment keeps getting better
Before Covid it was good, during Covid it is great, and after Covid it’s going to get even better. With the (hopefully temporary) closure of cinemas, movies on home streaming services are better than ever. Netflix originals continue to improve with some great choices every week. If you like televisual entertainment there has never been a better time. The downside is that some of our favourite long-running series (eg The Walking Dead), are suffering practical setbacks to filming because of the deadly global virus (ironically).
6. Video gaming is back!
I got back into playing video games on my PC last summer, when I had some bad stuff going on, and needed to escape reality. And in doing so, I rediscovered the loveliness of playing video games. Now with online modes and regular updates, the world of gaming is far better than it was when I last properly played anything maybe 8-9 years ago. Not much else to do, so enjoy this technology, let it entertain you.
7. Trump is gone
What more can I say. The orange monster has been slain, flown off in disgrace, and a tall grey beacon of hope sits in the Oval Office. This news was such a tonic, such a relief for the world. We needed it. Thank you America. The next four years at least, will give us all at least a chance now. Trump’s absence from Twitter and increasingly from our screens in general, is going to be a wonderful change in the 2021 and hopefully all the other years.
8. It’s a great time for creatives
I have started reading, writing and drawing. Home-based creative activities are winning now. Whatever creative spark you possess, nurture it now, while your mind needs stimulating. My creative side has returned and I am letting it flow. In all of this nightmarish fog, my brain has reactivated – and I am able to output tons of endless crap online again. This will continue whether I like it or not. Wierdly it’s so much easier to reach out, when isolated from the world, than when you are walking around in it.
9. Politics is entertaining again
There is a turnaround in the political tide. I can feel it. Trump is gone, Johnson is surely following close behind, Brexit is being revealed for what it is. Believe it! The world is on the brink of a transformation, and the well-lit political landscape we emerge into after Covid will be very different to those days before the virus sucked us into darkness. The process of political transformation is playing out already on the news channels (Sky News, BBC News, CNN, etc) and these topics can make oddly captivating viewing for those of us who like to shout at the telly.
10. You are alive
If you are reading this it means you are alive. That alone is a reason to be cheerful this year. So hold on to it, look after yourself and others, stay safe and treasure each breath. If you are alive it means you are free to look for reasons of your own. You made it this far. You can do it.