Wednesday was cold and wet. And dark. I turned on the light in my attic office first thing and didn’t turn it off until I felt it was bright enough, somewhere around 11:30. At 2:30 I turned it back on again as it seemed to be getting dark.
I was at my desk all day, the rain prohibiting me from getting out with the dog at lunch time. I looked at my laptop screen a lot. I spend so much of my time doing that now because I can’t get out anywhere.
The view from the window above me was grey. All day. Dark grey in the morning, a lighter, cement grey in the middle of the day, and then dark grey again. My little office felt like a prison.
A Bob Dylan lyric breezed through my head; infinity goes up on trial, voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while. Wednesday was monotonous. It was not a fun day.
Here in Northern Ireland, we are two weeks into a six-week lockdown. It is winter. There are more Wednesdays out there waiting to happen.
I went out for a run. It was alright; not awful, but not enjoyable either. It just was. I contemplated the question, what do I do with Wednesday? The day felt like treading water in an indoor swimming pool in pitch darkness. You know you have to keep moving, but it did all seem rather pointless.
I hesitate to hold out any advice, but I came back from my run with three thoughts, which I have spent the last few days thinking about, and so I offer them here, now.
First up, it helped me not to focus too much on Wednesday. It’s easy to say ‘this has been a very long year’. I know for many people it has, and I’m sympathetic to that. But for me, it hasn’t. There have been changes, but I haven’t been in lockdown for a year. March to May were strange and unsettling, but work that was packed into a few months, suddenly spread out and I had more spare time on my hands. The weather was also good and I spent more time in the garden than I ever have before. The summer wasn’t the trip to Berlin we had booked, but I had time out, time off and time with others. Over 2020, I read more, wrote more and began cycling again. Yes, the autumn and winter has been harder. I certainly felt short changed by Christmas, but I was still able to meet people for walks and I think I’ve got better at picking up the phone, or sending text messages.
Secondly, I thought about the language I was using to describe the present. Wednesday was dull, but there have been plenty of days since Christmas when the weather has actually been quite pleasant. I like cold, crisp weather. I would like some snow. Wednesday was particularly grey, but it was one day. As I write now, Saturday, my window is a large square of cobalt blue.
My attic office is not a prison either. It has deep pile carpet, comfortable chairs, a music collection, a vast book collection and more Star Wars memorabilia than a forty-seven year old man should have on display. Let’s not talk about the number of Lego people.
My work was not dull. The setting was dull and I’d like a little more variety in my days, but the current projects are varied and interesting, it’s not like I’m breaking up rocks on my own in a quarry.
Thirdly, just as it’s important for me to remember the last year, it is also important for me to remember that this won’t last for ever. I have always found January to be a slow month, but we have passed a few markers. Today, as I write, we are now in the second half of the month. By next weekend, we will be a full month on from the shortest day. There isn’t exactly a ‘quare stretch’ in the days, but little by little it is coming. It is light now, when I get up in the mornings. Lighter evenings are coming. Warmer days are coming. The daffodil bulbs in the garden are beginning to poke their heads through the soil. Vaccinations are proceeding and there is hope that, as the percentage of the population vaccinated increases, the spread of the virus will slow up and the incredible pressure on the health services will reduce. It is not here yet, but it is coming.
I am not one for wishing my life away. It does my head in when I hear people say things like ‘only three days to the weekend!’ That’s no way to live. Life is here, now, happening around us. But right now, if all else fails, simply counting the passing days might well be what we have, until this passes. Because all things pass.