Corona Journal, 4 April: Day 20

9am Saturday, apparently.

10.30am Just finished a ‘lesson’ with M. His mum tells me that as soon as M sees my face on the screen, he starts babbling away in Italian. He may be hard work, but he is very cute.

12pm I have been writing letters this morning. I signed up to an online initiative where you are paired with a random stranger who is in isolation and in need of cheering up. It’s nice to have the time to do this sort of weird hippy rubbish, and I get to use my massively extra wax seal which I have been given as a birthday gift on TWO separate occasions. I don’t know what that says about me but it’s probably not good.

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3pm Flatmate has ‘online drinks’ with work so I decide to leave him to it and go on a walk.

3.30pm Getting all pensive. I’m not a big Rupi Kaur fan, but there is one poem she wrote that has always stuck with me.

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I always used to think this was a poem about relationships, but now I realise it could be about anything. Before all this happened, I felt like I was building a life of solid, safe things: a career, a savings account, a room of one’s own. But structures that we, as a society, always thought were solid have started to reveal themselves as fragile. I lost the career. There is no money going into a savings account that one day, maybe (but probably not), might help buy me a place to live. Whether now or ten, twenty, thirty years down the line, this pandemic was always a possibility; I was never ‘safe’.

I’m trying not to feel guilty for the fact that I am still super sad about losing my job, even though other people are experiencing worse losses. I’ve been furloughed which is a huge relief, but the company has made no secret of the fact that I will not be kept on when the government support comes to an end. I recognise that amongst feelings of helplessness and loss, I’m also feeling angry: I worked so hard. I have always worked hard. I’m good at what I do. I was finally getting what I deserved. It’s not fair.

Thinking about it now, though, I can see that I am mistaken. All those things are true – I have worked hard, it’s not fair – but my anger is based on the assumption that the world is a fair and just place. It’s not. The world never promised us it would be ‘fair’. The world doesn’t even know what ‘fair’ is.

We’re brought up to think that if we work hard and are nice to people and do our best, we deserve good things. That’s just not true. We don’t deserve anything, good or bad; the whole concept of deserving things doesn’t really make sense. Like Rupi Kaur says, ‘nothing in this world was promised or belonged to you anyway’.

This isn’t to say I don’t believe in a certain kind of karma; if you’re kind to people, people are more likely to be kind back, and thus everyone has a generally more pleasant experience of the world – but the world doesn’t care how you experience it. There is no giant scoreboard in the sky earning you karmic points for good deeds. When you’re kind to someone, you don’t deserve them to be kind back, just as you don’t deserve it when there is some arsehole (there is always some arsehole) who is rude and hostile towards you no matter how nice you are.

This pandemic is a bit like that. My anger comes from the fact that I feel I’ve been a good person. I’ve worked hard, I’ve tried my best to be nice to people, I’ve played by the rules. I buy recycled toilet paper FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. These are all things that make my life a bit better, a bit more pleasant, a bit more likely for good things to come my way – but I don’t deserve good things by any means. Nor do I deserve bad ones. This pandemic is just like that one person being an arsehole, but on a cosmic scale. There is no point railing against it with a sense of injustice; this is not an unjust event, it’s just a thing that is happening. It’s totally random and just how it is.

When you think about it, the idea of ‘justice’ (in relation to life, love and the universe) is a bit self-aggrandising. The world doesn’t owe you anything. The world doesn’t even know who you are – you could die tomorrow and the world would carry on. With that in mind, the only thing to do now is to accept the situation and try to get through it together, and to keep putting good things into the world, hoping (but not expecting) that good things will eventually come back to us. And if we’re lucky enough to have nice things for a bit, we should appreciate them – because they’re not ours. They were never ours. We’ve just been lucky enough to borrow them for a bit.

Fancy myself a bit of a philosopher. If I had a beard, I would stroke it.

4.30pm Arrive home, feeling emotionally wrung out. Flatmate looks afflicted; it turns out there were 40+ people attending the online work drinks and it was absolute chaos. I think I need a lie down.

7pm Really need to stop taking mid-afternoon naps.

I hate to be this person (that’s a lie, I love the attention) but I’ve made the Corona Journal into a newsletter so you can get it emailed to you every day. Each post/email takes 1-2 minutes to read and let’s be honest, what else have you got to do right now? Also, sorry. You can subscribe here.

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