Lockdown day 18 – Breakdown

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself” my mother used to say to me when I felt down. “Stop being so dramatic” was another one. Or, “Save it for the stage!” she used to say if I was really acting up. But yesterday was one of those days where I just felt like I’ve had enough of this. This staying-at-home-all-the- time-stuff sucks. I wanted to scream out loud and would have, if I’d been alone, but I don’t want to scare my family members. It’s not just one thing or another that bothers me, it’s not the small stuff like picking up socks on the floor, having to clean another toilet, or looking at the overgrown weeds in the garden – those things no longer bother me. It’s the big picture this time. The world as we know it is dead and it now has to find a very different way to turn.

Unless well-equipped with the latest technology in communication, I can see how many older people (boomers) would find it difficult to be isolated. Extroverts (like me) need social stimulation so they would find this harder than, say, the introverts. But everyone needs attention more often than not, and feeling heard and/or listened to is paramount to life.

In a sense, writing is a lifeline for me. Without it I’d quite frankly go out of my mind. For others a source of comfort might be found in music, in dance, or figuring out how puzzle pieces fit. Speaking of puzzles my mother once told me about a dream she had a long time ago that was quite scary. She was standing in front of a bathroom mirror and pieces of her face were lying there next to the sink. Her job was to pick up the pieces and try and put them back together. It was a metaphor for getting her life back together again. So this is how I feel at the moment. The world is in pieces. We need to carefully put the pieces back together but be wary that the end result may look a bit different, even cracked, in places.

The novelty of the pandemic has worn off for me. I’m sure it has for many people. But now I’m starting to feel panic for the big picture. There is no way we can just take off where we left before the coronavirus hit us. Much of our future has to now be recreated. The earlier we start this process the better off we will be.

The millions of jobs people have lost may no longer be there so they need to be recreated from scratch. New industries need to be created, hopefully those that favour preserving the environment over destroying it. For now people are still scrambling to save lives, to recover from illnesses, and the drama that is unfolding is still fresh and shocking and therefore dominates the news headlines but all this will eventually become repetitive and therefore uninspiring. When the long catastrophic « killer storm » is over and the bell curve begins to fall the destruction, in hindsight, will be so great we will all be in danger of being depressed. But we can’t afford to be inactive. We will have to rebuild and move quickly. What will this look like? If it’s not going to change much for you it will for someone around you so how can you help them?

I predict that Cotignac will fair well in the long term but we will see a significant dip in tourism this year. We will see a dramatic difference this Summer with most, if not all, events cancelled. Maybe our tourists will look more French than international like in decades past. But we have a few things going here that will not change in the short term : great weather, beautiful scenery and fantastic rosé wine. Those things, in themselves, will always attract people as long as they can move from place to place. Cleaning and essential services jobs like plumbing and electricity will always be in need here, as will medical personnel to support our dominant elderly population. Last year I thought the holiday rental market was saturated. This year may prove particularly hard for this market as we will no doubt see far more properties available for short term let than takers. Prices will fall, as will real estate values and fewer people will be buying or moving house.

Rebuilding is like going back to square one. Starting over, like you do when one relationship ends, or you go through a job change, or someone you love passes away. But those are easy changes compared to what’s coming with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us will never know what it’s like for one’s house to burn to the ground or get uprooted by a tornado or tsunami but this world change will, I think, feel a bit like that except this time everyone in the world will feel the effects.