I’ll start by prefixing this post with a disclaimer that the content of this post isn’t really related to penguins at all. There is precedence for this kind of post though! Some people may remember another fan-blog from a few years ago called Club Penguin Memories, and more specifically, a series there called “Trainman1405 in Real Life”. Even when I was younger, I was always appreciative of the raw honesty that was conveyed in those posts.
The majority of this post will relate to my personal experience, but it feels wrong not to acknowledge the deadly nature of a pandemic, and the tragic inevitability regarding loss of life. I’ve been fortunate (?) enough that I’ve only experienced that sharp and deep grief just once – incidentally, exactly six years ago today – but such days remain permanently seared in your memory. I can still recall that morning vividly: the Saturday soccer game at primary school, the tears, the phone calls and the flowers. My deepest sympathies and condolences extend to anyone suffering through something similar now.
Something more likely to be impacting people are the effects of each country’s lockdown. As Alastair Campbell put it, coping with those effects is a challenge which every single person around the world is simultaneously facing at the same time, and that’s predominantly why I’ve wanted to write this post for a while.
It’s been 17 weeks since the British government took the necessary decision to close schools in England to stop the spread of coronavirus. By that time, that decision was almost predictable, and the instant reaction to the confirmation of schools closing by the Prime Minister in his 5pm press conference was relief.
Since then, like thousands across the country, I’ve received no schoolwork and had practically no contact with my teachers, and consequently, I suspect that I’m not the only one either to slip into having practically no routine beyond waking up at a reasonable time. The hardest question (maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but one of them at least…) posed to me so far has been “what have you been doing for the last few months?”.
My answer tends to be paraphrased lyric from a popular Prince song:
Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before-Prince, Raspberry Beret (1985)
Because, for me at least, that’s the reality; it’s true that I’ve coded a lot, from websites such as a random coronavirus slogan generator to a variety of things on WordPress.com, and tried to do so daily, while also watching a lot of documentaries, working on this blog, and accidentally rewatching every episode of some cartoons, Yes Minister, and old mermaid shows.
But for me, filling time has probably been the biggest challenge, along with the occasional loneliness. I suspect that for many in our community, the uncertainty at the end of May, amplified by Disney’s intervention and what felt like the opening of Pandora’s Box, made that time even rougher. But in truth, the waves of sadness are much more…random. For me, they tend to be days in which I don’t even open the curtains, and more frequently, probably end up doing nothing.
I recognise that I’ve been banging on about this for months, and it’s been on this blog’s home page slider, but I genuinely fear for the hidden impact the last few months have had on people – my questioning of “how are you” has increased significantly as a result. I sincerely hope the kind-of waves of sadness aren’t prevalent for you in these times. If they are, I wish you well. A lack of routine for months can thwart close to anyone, and though I’ve certainly been fortunate in the sense that I’ve been pretty comfortable, that desire for something more normal has been especially strong lately.
Equally though, as hopeful as I am that things will slowly start to revert to normal, I won’t deny being awake at 3am wondering whether the re-opening of schools won’t be the magic bullet that I sometimes imagine it to be; you tend to look back more fondly on times once they’ve passed, and in my case, though I’m looking forward to things, I do think back to the winter night before my French writing exam where I had broken down in tears outside a supermarket due to school issues, and you do wonder if things will work out. But although lockdown has provided much time for reflection, it’s important to stay optimistic: things can only get better, right? It’s just a matter of hoping for the best in the things that we are powerless over, while also maintaining gratitude for the positive things now.
I recognise that the thousands of people reading this blog each day will primarily be seeking uplifting content, so this is a pretty significant change to that, and not one that will happen regularly! But if this post contributes in bringing solace to even a few individuals going through a rough time in reminding them that these are challenging months, helps in digesting the random and wild thoughts which lots of people are having, or just makes someone ask another person how they’re feeling, it’s worth it.