How many more sleeps? | Radio-Canada News
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It’s been two years. Prior to that, I had experienced a two-year shutdown myself.
Two years of burnout. Two years of dragging one foot after another, obsessing over the daily annoyances of yesteryear. Commute. Depressing news. A creeping boredom with activities that passed the time without marking it. More trips. It’s a sad little laugh that escapes me when I think “those were the good old days”.
2020 was supposed to be my easy year. I’m privileged, so every year is easy compared to most of the other eight billion people here. But knowing I’m lucky doesn’t magically restructure my brain. I had crawled to the finish line after completing a gauntlet of self-imposed projects, and was beginning to regain the ability to plan again. Imagining things that could grow over months and years of creative work, instead of just reaching the point of discharging as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I spent years commuting between the suburbs and the Plateau, through some of the worst contortions of that city’s public transit system. Life was a bohemian delight of festivals and art that hung around once I arrived, but going back and forth made me feel like a serial tourist. 2020 was the year I moved within walking distance of a metro station and started thinking about my life as a full-time Montrealer. Walking into cafes on a whim, bumping into creative guys with hastily bought good wine. It was finally going to happen.
Barely a month into my new life, the shutdown happened. No more lingering in artistic corners, no more barging into friends’ homes. I was locked up, nowhere more than in my head. I have always been pessimistic and overly cautious, and my scientific knowledge has given me many reasons to indulge in these trends. So began 24 months of feeling frozen in place, vigilantly scanning the horizon for threats.
It wasn’t all bad; I started writing, continued to read voraciously, and found podcasts that made me feel less alone. These momentary escapes from terror were necessary and useful. But they failed to restore the promise I had before the world stopped – that I was finally going to know what to do with myself.
I’m sure a lot of people have planned their lives by squatting in a burrow, but I don’t think I could be one of them. I start to peek over the edge, though.
I would be the last person to demand, or expect, things to “go back to normal”. I wasn’t a fan of the “normal” anyway, with its failing democracies, spiraling technological disasters, and massive ecological destruction. But if I don’t start planning a life within or beyond those horizons of livable catastrophe, I simply resign myself to animal survival. People write great novels during wars. They find a love worthy of sonnets during famines. And they are doing it right now, with COVID added to their problems.
At the start of this pandemic, me and other like-minded people joked that we just wanted to hibernate until we were vaccinated (back when vaccination was the finish line of this sinister marathon). And I hibernated, digging and dying out. True metabolically depressed hibernation would have been healthier, if only to prevent reading the news.
One day soon, however, I will wake up wanting to do something. Something that will continue to shape my aspirations and endeavors for the days and months to come. Something to embrace rather than run away from. The spring is coming. How many more sleeps?
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