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Logdown

Gross.


Yes, you read that right. Gross.

I can picture you starting to shift in your seat. You may even have noticed the post’s title and are thinking "No, please, surely not? I know Andrew likes to make us squirm, but not even he would take us there. Would he?"


Well, sorry about this, but no, I’m not. The only shocking revelation I will make in this blog is that today marks 144 days since BoJo took us into lockdown. There you go - a gross.

Others have written much more eloquently than I will ever do about the lockdown. My friend Martin Thomas has described how things have worked out for him both personally and professionally, and another friend, Martin Evans, entertained us in the early stages of lockdown with his expert musicianship.

The last five months of my life are probably of interest only to me. I’m writing this unapologetically and cathartically for my self-reflection. If it’s a stimulating read, that’s fabulous. If it encourages you to put finger to keyboard or pen to paper, even better. But, once again, this is my record of my lockdown.

Yes, you've got there, this is my logdown.

Wood

The scale of this pandemic has turned everything on its head. Every norm has been challenged; the rulebook seems to have been thrown out.

In the last few months, we haven’t seen the trees for the wood. The macro has taken over from the micro, the collective from the individual, the generic from the specific. We’ve all faced the same challenges – social distancing, working or studying from home, masks, home deliveries, shopping, interacting virtually. And, as a result, each personal story has been swamped by the general narrative.


Dad and daughter on demo!

We’ve reaped the benefits of this approach too, of course. #BlackLivesMatters gained traction in a way that it should always have done but, honestly and frankly, might not have done in normal circumstances.


The world has united to face the challenge of COVID-19, just as it has come together in universal outrage at the brutal treatment and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But the personal stories are still there. Indeed, there are 7,804,891,161[1] more than this one.


Roots and branches

I’ve had opportunity and occasion to reflect deeply on what it is that keeps me stable and grounded. Who it is that offers me the emotional and spiritual nutrients that I need to survive and grow. And from where it is that I can extract what I need to flourish.

I’ve reminded myself of the things that inspire me, the values and beliefs that drive me on, and the behaviours and actions that drive me mad. And I’ve confronted those things that are entrenched and need to be released, not least my privilege.

What’s left is the trunk that defines and shapes me – my politics, music, education, spirituality and the arts. And spreading from that trunk, I’ve identified and separated the different branches of my life. The family, friends, colleagues, and groups that form the communities of which I’m part. It’s been liberating.

Shedding

‘Clearing out’ has been a significant part of my logdown.

I’ve considered ‘me’ for the first time in a long time. I’ve addressed those things that no longer add value or do what I need them to, from the trivial[2] to the profound[3].

I’ve been Kondo’d. When I moved into my rented flat in April last year, I removed from the loft in my house several crates that had remained unopened since 2006 when we moved in. And so they had remained in the third bedroom here for over a year.

I threw out 110 bin bags, filled a skip, got rid of furniture and photos steeped in avoidable memories, and created a pile for charity. I still couldn't tell you what I've dispensed with - that's how much I needed it. And thanks to MK, I now have kitchen cupboards and work surfaces that hint (at least) at an uncluttered mind.


Felled

I’ve written elsewhere about the recent change in my employment status.

That was monumental, but it wasn’t the thing that shook my world, took away my stability, and left me the most uncertain. I knew that Liv, my daughter, had been struggling for several months. But I wasn’t expecting her to tell me that she was having suicidal thoughts.

Liv has spoken movingly recently about her issues. She has inspired me and made me profoundly proud, just as she has challenged me in ways that I was never expecting. We’re all imperfect parents, and the lockdown has undoubtedly highlighted my inadequacies. Still, I never imagined I’d need to play amateur therapist.

My lesson is that when a job needs doing, it’s essential to get a professional to do it properly. The clinical psychologist to whom I reached out, and who subsequently referred Liv to another expert, possibly saved Liv’s life. There aren’t enough thank yous in the world for that.

Regrowth

And so we come to the green shoots. Everywhere I look, I feel hope. Uncertainty – of course; ambiguity – it goes without saying. But I’m excited and eager for the next few months and whatever they might bring.

If I’d written a job description and person specification for the weeks since 23 March, I wouldn’t have appointed myself. I’d have patted myself on the back for daring to apply but would have questioned my abilities. I'm pleased to say that I've surprised myself.

Who knows what form of lockdown we’ll face next, but I’m up for the challenge. I’ll probably even write about it.

Now, is that ‘logsdown’ or ‘logdowns’?

 

[1] World population at 15:42 on Friday 14 August (www.worldometers.info/worldpopulation) [2] I’ve shaved my head and so it will stay; since most of it had already decided to disappear, I just helped the rest along [3] I’ve initiated proceedings that will bring formal closure to a very different type of departure #ForAChangeFriday – longer posts that encourage self-reflection and consider what’s needed to make change stick

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