Monday 3 August 2020

Read this if you think you're missing out

I haven't been to the beach this summer. 
I haven't been on a boat.
I haven't been tubing/water skiing/jet skiing. (TBH I haven't done the latter two ever, and it becomes more evident with every year that I probably never will.)
I haven't had ice cream in a cone. 
I haven't taken a single road trip pic for the 'gram, because we haven't been on a road trip.
We haven't been on any "adventures".
I haven't written an entire album. (But I'm very glad Taylor Swift did; I'm not dissing you girl, I'm in awe and very happy you did!)

I don't know about you, but over the last couple of weeks I've felt bombarded by #summerfun pics on all the usual suspects: Instagram, Facebook, and probably a whole whack of other social media I luckily don't participate in. 
And even though we all know that comparison is the thief of joy and everybody only posts their highlight reel on social media, it's tough to see that when you feel like you haven't been doing any of those fun things. 

It's particularly hard in 2020 when you also need to consider social distancing, wondering if stay-at-home orders still apply (it doesn't look like anybody is still following those guidelines), and when you battle not only feelings of FOMO, but also either feeling resentful for staying home when seemingly nobody else does, or face ridicule from friends or the public for still adhering to those guidelines. 
2020 is a mindfuck. 
Like most of you, I'm caught in the middle. I want to keep others and myself safe, but I also want to do things. We're striking a somewhat illogical middle ground where we've let some people into our bubble whom we're seeing regularly, and also meet with the odd people outside of our bubble whom we can't bear not to see, so we just do. Maybe we shouldn't? But we all feel healthy and ready to risk it, and after all, this thing is not going away anytime soon, and there are some people you just have to see for your own health and happiness.  

But then, partly because I want to be "good", partly because I feel guilty (I work in healthcare and should be a role model after all), I don't do other things I'd normally do, like hanging out with people outside our bubble who we'd usually see all the time (aka the people with the boat). 
So, no boating for us this year. 

Don't be fooled by the current onslaught of pictures online. They're a symptom of everything we've been through for the last 6 months. Many of these people have quarantined, worked from home, sheltered in place, and didn't see any of their nearest and dearest for months. We all have a breaking point. They're seeing them now for the first time in a long time, so they are going a bit nuts. 

But also, if you pay close attention, you will notice that a lot of your usual summer content creators are missing. They're where you and me are, caught in the middle, considering right now if they should pack the kids, a beach umbrella and a tripod and go to the closest lake or river to take some pictures of themselves, proving to everybody that they're enjoying the summer just as much as everyone else does. I've thought about it myself for the last 3 days; that's how I know. 
Me on a walk 2 days ago during my weekend on call. 

I also get distracted by the news. (Don't we all?) I've never been a political person, but this year has really awakened me to pay more attention to what's going on. For the first time in my life I'm paying fierce attention to feminist issues, something I should have done decades ago, but now is better than never. Then there is BLM, the shitshow that is 45's regime, everything happening in Portland, and all the insane conspiracy theories that have been passed around, some by people I know have also kept me up. 2020 is a lot

"Enjoying the summer" is not the goal this year. Maybe it never has been, but I'm a frivolous person who likes to enjoy life, so I will strive towards this goal again next year, with double the effort; just so you know. 

I know that all of us have been dealing with the same shit. That's why I thought it's important to come here today and remind us all of a few facts that are easily forgotten in all the chaos and noise:
  • We live amidst a pandemic. Life as we knew it doesn't exist anymore. 
  • It's okay if we lose our shit more than usual. 
  • It's normal if we feel unsettled, worried, and off-track.
  • Your body changed? Read the room, darling; so did everybody else's. 
  • None of us have gone on a proper vacation. Even the folks whose pictures we've been salivating over haven't been able to enjoy their vacation like they usually did: not everybody was there. Not all their favourite restaurants were open. Not all the people in the neighbourhood could come to the barbecue. They were secretly worried if they put their loved ones at risk.
  • All of us feel unfulfilled. What we, collectively, are craving is a sense of security. And nobody can give that to us right now. So we are all insecure little ducklings.  
But don't forget: I'm German. I grew up in the 80s, when our school's curriculum was all about teaching us what happened during the Hitler years, from 1933 to 1945.
In a way, I've been prepared for this since I was in Elementary school. 
Ever since I was little, I was waiting for something awful to happen. It happened to my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents - why not to me?

And then I read this:
"Imagine you were born in 1900.
When you're 14, World War I begins and ends when you're 18 with 22 million dead.
Soon after a global pandemic, the Spanish Flu appears, killing 50 million people. And you're alive and 20 years old.
When you're 29 you survive the global economic crisis that started with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange, causing inflation, unemployment and famine.
When you're 33 years old the Nazis come to power.
When you're 39, World War II begins and ends when you're 45 years old with a 60 million dead. In the Holocaust 6 million Jews die.
When you're 52, the Korean War begins.
When you're 64, the Vietnam War begins and ends when you're 75.
A child born in 1985 thinks his grandparents have no idea how difficult life is, but they have survived several wars and catastrophes.
Today we have all the comforts in a new world, amid a new pandemic. But we complain because we need to wear masks. We complain because we must stay confined to our homes where we have food, electricity, running water, Wi-fi, even Netflix! None of that existed back in the day. But humanity survived those circumstances and never lost their joy of living."

We are living through a very mild version of the catastrophe I've been prepared for all my life.
None of our sons, brothers, grandsons, or cousins have to go to war.
There are no bombs being dropped on our homes.
We haven't been invaded by enemy forces.
We are not starving.
We are not being raped.
Our homes aren't being taken away from us.

So who the fuck cares if you're not going to the beach this summer?
We are alive.
We are with our loved ones.
We can be fairly certain that we'll wake up in our beds tomorrow, with no political flyer telling us to turn our friend in; or a warning that a stray bomb may eliminate us all.
We are the lucky ones.



  1. This was honestly such a great perspective. thank you!! I find myself kind of annoyed with people sending their kids to camp and traveling to Mexico this year.

    1. Yes! And I'm really annoyed with all the conspiracy theories, blaming others, and pretending none of this is real. People are baffling. The virus is here and it's here to stay, and life has changed for all of us forever! But life has changed for the world many times before, we are not special. We just have to accept it and adapt.

  2. As somoene who did road trip this year, I really appreciate this post. We did everything we could to do this right, and luckily we didn't get sick and no one we know of did either. That being said, our trip was unavoidable: we were moving. I don't think we would have done it otherwise.

    And I love that quote you provided. We can survive so much more than we think we can. We just need to keep working toward joy. And love.

    Thank you, Miriam.

    1. I truly believe that the situation we find ourselves in is going to be our new normal. The social distancing, mask wearing and taking extra precautions are here to stay for as ling as the virus is here, and I doubt that it's going anywhere.

      Hopefully, with greater understanding of how it works, possible treatment and a vaccine we will be able to fight it more effectively, but it's something we all have to learn to live with.

      As daunting and awful as that sounds, when we look at history we quickly see that every generation before us had challenges to live with - many of them worse then what we are facing now. Humans are amazingly adaptable - we can and will get used to this.

      As you said, if we keep striving towards joy and love we will be able to carry this burden.


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