Love in a Time of Coronavirus
by Callum R Scott
And just as the zombie apocalypse kicked in, I quit my job. I’ll tell you why later in the piece. So, now I find myself unemployed at 50, in the middle of a pandemic. This is a concept that should scare the shit out of me but I’m strangely calm about my state of affairs because hysteria only leads to anxiety, and anxiety ends up leading to expensive counselling sessions with somebody who speaks softly and does a lot of nodding.
For the first four weeks of unemployment, I was holed up in my flat because I went over on my right foot and stretched a few ligaments, meaning I spent a lot of time sitting in my IKEA chair with my foot up on the coffee table, watching depressing stuff on the telly. Just what you need when you’re unemployed and injured. I also drank a lot of wine even though I have the word ‘sober’ tattooed on my right wrist. Meanwhile, the coronavirus was seeping into our collective unconscious around the world, and I was already self-isolating.
In the wrong hands, self-reflection while in isolation can be a dangerous venture. It can lead to mental breakdown, the agonising realisation that life is meaningless, and, potentially, suicide. Not so for me. For me self-isolating, when you’re not sick, is fucking awesome. You don’t have to deal with the ocean of idiots who exist beyond the front door, endlessly bumping into each other while they stare at their phones like cretins caught in the headlights. Why the fuck should I be responsible for their spatial relations? Every day I suppress the urge to knock their phones out of their hands and explain the laws of physics to them.
The other upside of self-isolation is that you have time to reflect upon your life. I had a great time picking through my ‘reason to be’. It was an existential holiday in my wee flat. I worked out that, yes, my life was meaningless, but only because I’d made it that way. In short, I’d spent the last two years hating my job, which was akin to having somebody take to your soul with a potato peeler. Hence, the decision to quit.
I live in a state of chaos and my workplace could no longer accommodate this. A sense of order had been installed by top brass via project management software called Slack, i.e. the worst kind of corporate mind control. There was even a stream called #wheremyhomiesat, where you had to let ‘the team’ know where you were at all times; cue Orwell’s Room 101 and that cage with the rat in it. So, in short, dishes were done. Plus, I have recently diagnosed PTSD (PCL-5 – 63), so something like #wheremyhomiesat is about as helpful as dropping me in a K-hole and telling me the paranoid hallucinations are all part of my new reality.
Bottom line, the corporate world doesn’t suit me because I have one of those artistic souls that rails against rules and structure and being told what to do by middle managers who only got where they are by following processes and procedures set by those higher up, who only got where they are by following processes and procedures set by those higher up. As my mate Isaac said, “Outlaws can’t work for the man,” and as an artist you have a duty of care to break the rules as you see fit.
One of the hardest things you’ll ever be asked to do is to love yourself. It’s like Sisyphus rolling his rock up that hill. You get that rock all the way to the top of the hill and you think you’ve finally found a way to love yourself, then something shit happens and the rock rolls down the hill again, and you’re left in a cesspool of self-loathing, pulling your fingernails off with a pair of pliers. Then along comes something that is completely out of your control, like a pandemic, or zombie apocalypse, aka the coronavirus, aka COVID 19, where there is nothing else to do but cut yourself off from the world to keep yourself safe. And sometimes in that state of enforced isolation you finally find the time to relax into yourself, and look deep into your soul, and find the things that make you happy about being you.
But let’s get back to being unemployed at 50. What’s next? Will our hero ever ride again? To be honest, I have no idea. But very once in a while you have to make a stand in this life and tell the people who don’t add value to get fucked. That’s what I did. I quit my job in the middle of a pandemic and strode – sorry – limped, into the unknown. Now, I’m going to concentrate on the things that matter to me, the things that don’t make me feel like I’m an injured hamster on a wheel, spinning recklessly into a void of chocolate-coated diarrhoea. In essence:
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are. – Carl Jung
Callum R Scott oscillates between being elated and very angry and sometimes both at the same time. Apart from researching and writing, he enjoys a good pint and lives in a flat in Brunswick, close to his favourite place, Barkly Square. His greatest disappointment in life is that his first memory turned out to be a lie. He didn’t lose a red wellie on a beach in Orkney and now he has no first memory, just a lot of stories about alcohol and bad decisions. This story was originally published on Callum’s blog – callumrscott.com