I’ve been trying to spark my embarrassingly small and limp flame of creativity for about a week now, maybe more.
Covid-19 is a horrible virus, but it’s also made most of us remember our global sense of humanity, empathy and kindness. These things are still there of course, but time is taking its toll on us.
My mood during the pandemic
Lately my mood has been punctuated with a sense of guilt. I feel it when I make excuses to escape communicating with family or friends who I’ve grown closer to during this time.
I feel guilty for being exhausted even though I literally haven’t left my house in two days. And for not being able to focus on anything, let alone find some monk-like sense of serenity out of all of this.
My unaccomplished projects have become like a listless, half inflated balloon that’s escaped some kid’s birthday party to haunt forgotten corners around the house for weeks to come.
I thought that talking about all the things I haven’t been able to accomplish during quarantine might be a way to finally start and finish something. Even if it’s just a list of all the things I haven’t finished.
The great things I haven’t done during lockdown
1. Finishing books
My bedside table is used to unfinished books. But I can no longer safely balance a cup of coffee on my pile of novels, and I can barely read a page without becoming distracted.
2. Finishing or even starting art projects
I love to collage. Usually. I love how the combination of random pieces of paper can create something new and even evocative if you’re very lucky. But I can’t get into it. My piles of vintage National Geographic magazines with their sepia tinted colours lay unused, safe for the moment.
3. Finishing the art projects I started because I can’t concentrate on other art projects
Yeah, this is where this list starts to get embarrassing. Not being able to concentrate on making a surreal masterpiece (well, you know) right now is one thing. But I actually broke down and bought a paint by numbers - a T-Rex, if you must know.
You’d think some nice, relaxing painting would be perfect. Apparently not. I’m barely a leg of the way through.
4. Making aloe vera cuttings for friends
In an earnest attempt to spread some good cheer to a few close friends, I took some aloe vera cuttings and began to grow their roots in water. That was about two weeks ago. If these babies aren’t planted in some actual soil soon chances are they will perish. So I don’t have any gifts to drop off on doorsteps, and might indeed be a terrible plant mum.
5. Playing the C64 I spent £70 on
The remake of the 80’s gaming console known as Commodore 64 is surely the ultimate testament of all my failed attempts to keep busy. It sits half unwrapped and already collecting dust, a piece of intelligent plastic that has so much potential to entertain…If only I’d give it 5 minutes worth of attention.
A similar thing happened after my MS diagnosis
I started out with a brave face. I developed a working knowledge of the disease, its progression, potential treatments, and everyday tips for coping. Eventually though I got tired of hearing about it, talking about it, and of trying to make myself better because of and despite it. I just…ran out of steam.
But the MS did not. And the thing I didn’t realise at the time was that even though I was tired, I certainly wasn’t done fighting.
Stop trying to be better versions of ourselves
I think we might need to stop trying to be better versions of ourselves. I mean, lockdown isn’t a wellness retreat. We’re bored, we’re frustrated, and we’re terrified all at the same time.
What eventually got me out of my MS slump was the ability to endure even when it seems difficult to grow, because the thing you’re up against is way stronger than you.
Patience has the potential to win over strength, but only if we’re patient enough to realise it.
This quote, by the playwright Samuel Beckett, sums it up to me: ‘Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’