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Punctuating the silence

20 September 202005:49PMlife

Hey! It's been what, like, six months? We've got some catching up to do.

This is the longest I've gone without writing here since I started, way back in high school, which is now an upsettingly long time ago. The previous record, if you're interested, was the four months between May and October 2019, when, in hindsight, I was burnt out and dealing with some stuff. That's six very possibly historically important months during which I have no record of what happened, except for some musings about toilet paper shortages.

So, for the record: a pandemic happened.

As Times go, these ones are pretty Unprecedented. Historic, even. And there's a little part of me that wishes I had blogged, or journalled, or... I dunno, written something down.

There's a post-it on the wall of the office, now that we're back, which cheerily asks, "What did you achieve during the lockdown?" My answer - and as far as I'm concerned, the only valid answer - is "Didn't get the virus". Because that was the point.

I find the expectation that people "should" have used their lockdown time for self-improvement to be frankly laughable. Literally your only goal is to not get The Virus, and if you achieved that, you're all good in my books. I am bringing this up partly as a philosophical point, but mostly to excuse myself for not writing anything about the Unprecedented Times in which we're living. I know that future-me (and maybe future-others) will want to look back on this time and see what I was thinking, but... sorry, that didn't happen.

And so I guess my point is this - in lieu of overwrought historically interesting journalling, you get silence. You get a missing footage, a hole in the data, the blog equivalent of the layer of ash in the strata or the year without summer in the tree ring or the gap in the fossil record. What I'm doing right now is punctuating that gap to explain that the silence hasn't been empty. It's not the absence of a signal - the absence is the signal.

Because lockdown was miserable. That's it - that's the message. It was miserable, and boring, and - here at least - mercifully short, and quite frankly I'm still in the process of putting my life and my routines back together because it was unspeakably disruptive. We had one job, and that job was to not get The Virus, and we knuckled down and we did that job. We didn't enjoy it, and it came through like a wrecking ball, and we're still putting things back together.

I know don't enjoy taking work home. I know that bicycle-facilitated outside time and exercise are a critical way of delineating time. I know that I spend a lot of energy building habits and systems for myself. Those systems are more fragile than they seem, and it is entirely predictable - and also entirely unavoidable - that they disintegrated when subjected to Unprecedented stresses.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to say. When you look back at this period, this is how you should interpret it. The radio silence isn't missing data, it is the data. I don't know if that silence is over yet, or if now that it's contextualised and described we can sink back into it a little more comfortably. Maybe we've addressed the elephant in the room, maybe it's just a burst of static. I don't know. I don't think anybody does. We'll be back when we're back, and that might be soon, and it might be never, and either of those is okay, and we just have to wait and see which one it's gonna be.

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