In Search of Nuance
Jenny Constable on the changing mood of seasons and the need to shift from the assumption of bad faith and the constant performance of faux-outrage as we all cope with covid.
I love the idea of Autumn; I love the rich colours, the sweater weather, the excuse to spend an evening wrapped up in blankets with a glass of wine or indulgent cinnamon spiced drink. I love the feeling of the world slowing down, turning each golden-light-filled day like a page of a book until the end of the year. Savouring the crisp mornings and blowing out billowing plumes through the frosty air with each breath. This is my idealised version of Autumn; the one that I hold onto through the year, before the days start to get shorter, our heating bill grows noticeably weightier and the starker realities of the season settle in.
In truth, I’ve always found October a difficult month to navigate. The lack of vitamin D and too often overcast weather coincides with a significant drop in my mood, increased fatigue and a general disinterest in life and all the aforementioned lovely things that come with the season.
During the *normal times* this post-summer slump was frequently a struggle, but in this new dystopian lockdown limbo we find ourselves grappling with, the lows have been exacerbated and the challenges all the greater. Without the usual summer to break up the year, 2020 has, in some regards felt like an endless winter, with much of it spent confined indoors and a large chunk of the year lost to a haze of daily briefings and zoom quizzes.
This past month in particular has felt an especially difficult slog. Between the scare stories of students trapped in halls, rising unemployment and, of course, the soaring case numbers, the world just feels a bit overwhelming right now, and on the worst days, it feels difficult to even get out of bed. Not helped by this week’s newly imposed rules, with nationwide restrictions on hospitality venues and alcohol salves, and further closures of bars and restaurants in the central belt area.
Although only temporary, these additional measures – I will admit – were difficult to hear. After an anxious six month of uncertainty and sacrifice, you can’t help but feel a little like we’ve taken three steps forwards, two steps back out of lockdown, however necessary the measures are.
And of course, these measures are necessary; we do understand the need for them. With now over 1000 new cases being recorded daily in Scotland, it’s clear that this virus has no intention of leaving soon. People are still falling sick, our most vulnerable are still at risk and we need to do whatever is needed to control infections. But we can accept the need for all these rules and regulations, while also acknowledging that everything is certifiably shit at the moment.
Possibly one of the most exhausting discourses to play out after each new wave of regulations is the absolutism in how we’re supposed to react. We’re divided into two camps; those who complain about the restrictions; who would sacrifice their grannies for the sake of a night out, and the others who support them; who would gladly see our economy crumble with no thought to the thousands of jobs at risk from each new closure. There’s no room in-between for reasonable worry, legitimate concern or even a good old cathartic grumble.
It’s a tedious pantomime of faux-outrage and finger pointing to follow, and one that neglects to acknowledge the great many emotions and frustrations we will understandably be feeling after a difficult year. It’s possible to understand the need for these restrictions on our freedoms, while simultaneously letting yourself feel disappointed about it.
When our timelines have become inundated with sad personal stories and an endless reel of Bad News, it’s easy to think that we shouldn’t complain because others have it worse, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re all living though what will be remembered as one of the roughest times in human history.
We have a long and difficult winter ahead, with what is already a challenging time for many being made all the worse from the toll Covid has taken on our lives. The least we can do is offer each other a little patience and understanding; to believe that people are trying their best in the hardest of circumstances, and have earned the right to a little moan.