The past two weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur, partly because of the overarching weirdness of the pandemic and various regional confinement edicts, partly because of Thanksgiving in the US (which usually delays a few things just enough to set the mood for Christmas), and partly because I’ve been trying to keep it together among project wind-downs, internal re-orgs and the grating disconnect betwen “business as usual” and “there are people dying out there” that everyone is caught up in.
You can tune out some things all of the time and you can tune out all things some of the time, but you cannot tune out all things all of the time, so no matter how optimistic (or escapist) you try to be, the overall effect is of mild, low-level anxiety about an unspecified something, which is a situation humans are absolutely lousy at dealing with.
I’d rather have random bits of high-level stress I can react to, act upon (or plan for) than this sort of continuous background weirdness, so I’m more eager to actually do something that matters than anxious. But even given my thick skin and propensity for long-term outlooks, the whole thing has been getting to me as the days blur into sameness and I try to instill some novelty into them by sitting someplace else in the house or doing some chores in a different order. I’m not cut out for helplessness (in any meaning of the sentence), so I’m constantly raring to go and do… something else than this.
I suppose this is what is driving people outside in droves, irrespective of their actual awareness of the risks. Me, I’m staying put and only leaving the house for school runs, during which I end up exercising just enough to remind me that I am (hopelessly) out of shape for one who used to walk everywhere–which of course also doesn’t help.
So over the past few weeks, I tried to counter it by working at (even) odder hours (just so to keep myself busy, which was clearly a mistake), sticking my nose into books (I’ve read pitifully little this year, less than half my usual take) and watching random shows like the uplifting Ted Lasso and the mesmerizing Queen’s Gambit, which are brilliant in their own way and just off-kilter enough to blank out some of the weirdness with their own.
Not much technology has been discussed (outside working hours, at least), largely because I found myself gawking at industry news for a fair bit and decided it was too early to care–I’m steeling myself for at least another six months of uncertainty, after which it should be clearer which way the tech economy is going.
Overall, the non-brain-numbing highlights of the past couple of weeks involved dipping into my management and para-legal background at work (which was fun, valued and important, but not what I think I should be doing at all) and tacking on low-level, raw Azure blob API support into this site’s engine (extending some code from one of my random side projects) during the weekends.
It’s a weird combo, I know, but I think it’s typical of the whole year. 2020 may be nearly over, but the fallout is going to be with us for a little while longer, so any small thing that feels like you’re making some headway out of it is welcome.
Find stuff that matters to you and do it, no matter how unimportant it may seem1.
Except baking and posting the results on Instagram, please–I appreciate the skillset involved, truly believe more people ought to do it as a matter of course and would ordinarily crave the results, but Christmas is coming and a year of random physical inactivity really doesn’t jive with the usual excesses of the season (if we can manage them at all this year). ↩︎