A year without footy

It occurred to me the other day that this year – 2020 – will be the first year since about 1979 that I haven’t attended a VFL/AFL game in person – and 1979 I was living in Sydney. I was in Sydney in 1980 also, but I remember attending a Swans game. And in the years before 1979, when I was still in Melbourne, we had reserved seats at Windy Hill and turned up for every home game. By my reckoning, I’ve been to a game every year since about 1971, excluding 1979, and this year.

This has not been by choice. The extraordinary circumstances mean that the games have been played in a bubble, and far from Melbourne. It’s the last round of the home and away season this weekend, but, excepting round one, every round has been away for us Victorians.

It’s been a strange year altogether, and that includes the footy. I watch every week, but it’s a different product entirely. Shortened quarters make for a different spectacle, and the interrupted season has made for a game of a distinctly lesser standard than usual. Add to that wretched umpiring – for which there is no excuse – and it’s only really habit and tribal loyalty that has kept me watching.

After this weekend, my team is out of it, and the finals begin. I don’t have a huge interest in what happens next, except in the usual way – I know who I don’t want to win it. I’ll be watching still, and I may even get excited at times, but I can’t wait for it to get back to ‘normal’, and to a time when I can sit in the outer again hurling abuse at umpires and cheering on the red and black.

There’s a lot of things I can’t wait for.

The Melbourne lockdown

These days of lockdown are full of routines, wanted or not. I keep hearing how important it is to maintain a routine, and while I understand it, I sometimes struggle when it gets too regimented and predictable. It’s taken me a while to realise that while I’m well suited to a situation like this in many regards – self-reliant, resilient, strong – there are parts of my make-up that make it more difficult. I’m one, for example, who thrives on change. I’m not someone content to sit in the corner and watch the world go by. I like to engage, I’m curious, and spontaneous possibility excites me. All that has been put on hold.

I struggle with some of the routine and repetitive meetings that are in themselves routine. I hate the fact that at a certain time every day I’ve got to sit at my desk and attend the same meeting as I did the day before to say much as I did the day before, and to listen to the same reports pretty much as the day before. And that’s every day. I tell you, it’s bad for the soul. Just randomly I’ll skip one now and then, and will try and change it up by joining on my phone and sitting on the couch. It’s all pretty lame.

There are more welcome routines. My first coffee. That hour I get to rea in bed before starting work. The tea-break at about 9.45 – I’ve gone from using a tea-bag to a proper brew, and even Indian style occasionally – brewed up on the stovetop until it just boils, like billy tea without the gum leaf. There’s the first trip outside at around 10.30, generally in the direction of the shops. I look forward to that. And then there’s the second trip out walking Rigby somewhere between 3 and 3.30. And I guess knock-off and the G&T that heralds it.

There are larger routines. Yesterday I had delivered a couple of bags of coffee beans, plus a bottle of vodka and one of Noilly Prat (for the warmer months) from Dan’s, and I thought, it must be a month. Deliveries are almost a routine thing, too. It’s rare I don’t get a daily delivery of something, though they come at different times, and in very different shapes and sizes.

I read a bit about how tough it’s been in Melbourne through this lockdown. I think in theory, that’s true. It certainly hasn’t been easy – but it feels sometimes as if it’s been overdone, mostly by people who haven’t lived through it. There are noisy exceptions, but most Melburnians have accepted the situation. None of is relish it, all of us look towards a time when we’re free to move about, to visit friends, to sit down for a drink, and all the rest of it, but we know also why we’re doing this. By and large, we get on with it. It certainly not as miserable as some people make it out to be, not for me anyway. We’ll come out of this strong.

What happens after? I don’t know. Who does? The trend is positive currently and we can see a way clear. But I don’t think anyone believes we’re out of the woods with COVID. A vaccine is a while away, if ever, and there a few places in the world who have it under control – and, even so, we’ve seen how quickly it can get out of control again.

Here, I think this experience has bound us closer together as a community, and may make us more parochial – not everyone’s been happy with the commentary coming out of other states, and certainly the Federal government. The experience may just make Melbourne even more distinctly Melbourney. That’s no bad thing.

Uncle Don

I dreamt last night that I was Donald Trump’s ‘nephew from Australia’. I went to visit him, and we went on a road trip together and hit it off fine. At one stage we’re walking side by side along a busy road with a lake on the far side of it. It’s pretty, and we’re talking and as we go along, he takes my hand in his. Though I’m in my early twenties, I accept it as a fond gesture. And in fact, all through my dream my experience of Donald is that he’s a friendly, generous and fun to be around sort of guy. And actually, quite a basic character when you strip away all the bullshit – which is an awful lot.

I woke with this dream in me and didn’t know what to make of it. Then I thought some more and it didn’t seem so strange.

Like much of the world, I despise Donald Trump, but I also pity him. It seems a generous position given all the terrible things he’s done, but when I look at him, I see a man terribly out of his depth. He’s not smart enough to know it, and certainly not to admit it, and so he blusters and pontificates to hide his ignorance and to supposedly portray the sort of character he wants to be. Unfortunately, the real tragedy in this is that he’s been allowed to get away with. He’s a prime analog for the emperor with no clothes, and so he swans around naked while his cronies and the corrupt and imbecilic who follow him fall over themselves to exclaim what a splendid suit of clothes he’s wearing.

This is one of the diabolical aspects of these times. I don’t know of any other era when someone so profoundly incapable would attain such a position of power, and maintain such power throughout. It says a lot about the fierce polarisation of ideology these days when someone so inadequate and dangerous is preferable to the power-brokers behind him than some liberal alternative. And it says a lot about the usual checks and balances in society that have allowed this – a critical media and an educated electorate.

I wonder sometimes in his reflective moments – if he has them – if Donald suspects he might be such a strawman? Does he ever look in the mirror and realise he’s a terrible fraud?

I think the truth about Donald Trump is that he’s not very bright (and has probably some form of Alzheimer’s), was badly brought up, and learned early it was more important to bullshit and bully and barge your way through than to get your hands dirty. I suspect he’s a man without any real values or convictions.

He certainly has a history of bigotry, but I suspect little of it is firmly held. It’s more a matter of convenience or some perverted sense of being cool, which I think is important to him. He’s a populist carried away on the tide of his own narcissism. Everything is status for him, and he can’t bear to be seen wrong or ignorant, which is why he invents such fantastic tales and why everything is always the best or biggest. He’s really a child who somehow has become the most powerful man in the most powerful country on earth.

That’s just my opinion and none of it excuses his behaviour, though it might explain some of it. If not for all the bullshit he might be a reasonable guy – but then, there’s a lot of bullshit.

Grumpy bastard

Was having a laugh with a friend from Sydney last night discussing the absurdity of the conflict over koalas in their state parliament. Look it up if you’re interested, it doesn’t bear repeating here.

Then our conversation turned to the latest story about our PM getting emotional on tabloid radio describing the privations of a woman who couldn’t get into Queensland to farewell her dying father. It’s an unfortunate story, but there are hundreds of unfortunate stories right now. Morrison said he was afraid that Australia might be losing its humanity through this pandemic, which is very rich coming from a man who’s never shown any sign of humanity himself. This is the man who denied asylum seekers the right to attend family funerals and, even now, has locked up a young family on Christmas Island for over a year. The man is a rank hypocrite and self-promoter.

As my friend said, it can’t be doing much for my blood pressure. He knows that I’m more affected than most by the dire behaviour of our politicians and media. It’s funny, most of my life I’ve been pretty sanguine about everyday events. Most people consider me unflappable and calm. Even as a teenager I was called phlegmatic. It’s only very few who see the other side of that.

While there have been occasions when I’ve been disgusted or disappointed, up to recently there wasn’t really an ‘other side’. I wonder now if it’s existence now is because I’m getting older, or if it reflects the deteriorating and deplorable state of current affairs? Probably both. In terms of my blood pressure, they’re a perfect match.

I’ve said it before – there’s so much I can stomach any more.

The petty bickering, the negativity, the rank politicking and infectious stupidity – not to mention, the spread of fake news – has been bad for my mental health. If I engage with it I end up with a knot in my stomach and my blood pressure likely going through the roof. It’s the fact that it has become this, without any brake or impediment to it, that infuriates me so. I’m sick to the soul about it because it goes against everything I believe in.

My routine over many years upon waking is to check out the morning news – on the radio initially, then online. I’m a news junkie, always have been. I switched on the radio this morning to be greeted by another sensationalist and utterly dumb headline, and with a groan, I switched it off. Much like the other news services, I’m now avoiding the radio news as well.

How has it come to this – a news junkie avoiding the news? Because, with few exceptions, there’s no rigour to it, no examination. It’s just a ritualised rehash of whatever somebody has said or claimed. The standard of journalism has plummeted so far that it appears few journalists are capable, or willing, to analyse the ‘news’ presented to them. Because of this, reams of arrant nonsense are reported as true. And because most of society only really skim the headlines, the nonsense becomes accepted fact.

I can’t deal with it anymore, though much of that is due to the lockdown we’re in. So much destructive and unnecessary commentary is dangerous to the collective mentality. It’s hard dealing with it but much harder having this rubbish piled on top.

All I want is for our politicians and media to act responsibly, and for us as a society to question what’s fed to us as a matter of routine and habit. Ask questions of what you read and hear and make up your own mind.

We’re getting further from that every day, and I don’t see it changing. I am, I suppose, becoming a curmudgeon. I may have to accept that and be much more selective with where I get my news.

Cracking the inner shell

Over the weekend, I watched an old movie. Old is relative – there was a time I’d consider an old movie being something from the forties or fifties. In this case – The Accidental Tourist – I reckon ‘old’ is around the late eighties. I guess that makes me old, too.

I remember watching the movie soon after it came out. For the most part, I liked it. It was an intelligent, well-made film, and it starred one of my preferred actors from the time – William Hurt (a very underrated actor). The character of Muriel (Geena Davis) grated on me a bit, much in the same way it grated on Macon (Hurt) initially. However, it was her personality that was instrumental in drawing Macon out of himself and in beginning the healing process – and, ultimately, to live again.

This is another movie I probably haven’t seen for 20 years, and it’s always interesting to compare the viewing perspective so many years apart. I’m sure last time I saw it it would have been an entertainment for me. These years later, locked in, the experience was very different.

I could see something of myself in Macon, certainly in terms in how I’ve been since being homeless, and for similar reasons – dealing with, and recovering from, grief. I used to be much more carefree, though there were many more reasons for it then than there are now. I want terribly to get back to that but seem incapable of it. I feel locked into myself with a boundary between me and the people around me.

There were other elements of the movie that tugged at me. Macon, at least, has a family to fall back on, however eccentric. I yearn to be enfolded in a family like that. I was, for many years, and accepted it without a second thought. You have a place in the family, and you know where you belong, and you know that if you reach out, there’ll be someone there for you. Love feels like a birthright and affection a given.

To watch the movie and to be moved by it in different ways was more of a reminder than a revelation. I know this stuff. I meander along dealing with it. I hope to change it.

Last week, I created for myself an internet dating profile on a site I had a lot of luck on once. I did it because I need an outlet in lockdown and a way of expressing myself. Love would look after itself, all I was after was a connection. I was very candid in my profile and the very act of writing it was good for me.

Before I published it, I shared it with some friends looking for feedback. This is not something I would ever have done before, but I do it now in the conscious effort to be more open, less guarded. I got great feedback. I was told it was honest and that any woman – any person, in fact – would be drawn to it. The reaction came as no surprise to me I found. As was commented, I write well and, even so, I felt as if the sentiments expressed were common.

It’s a funny thing, at that moment I felt a kind of revelation – though it was not something I haven’t felt before. I can be relied upon to express things well. I can be relied upon in so many ways because that’s who I am. I’m conscientious and alert and smart and methodical when it counts. All good things, you would think, but sometimes I feel as if the boundary I speak of is inside me.

Just by habit, I’m ahead of the game so often because I’m always calculating contingencies and plotting probabilities. God knows, I don’t always say the right thing – but I can be relied upon to say it with poise and style (or else, occasionally, deliberate and pithy bluntness). Generally, I know the right thing to do when nothing’s on the line – how to act, how to be, when to speak and when to stay silent. These are behavioural patterns if you like I probably inherited from my mum, who was always socially aware. I’m lucky in that I read people well, sometimes to their great shock. And I can write just the right thing in the controlled environment of an internet dating profile.

What it all adds up to is a certain knowingness that I think is one of my defining characteristics. I don’t know of anyone who’s ever seen me flustered, though I’ve definitely done anger. I don’t remember a time I felt panic, and I’m sure no-one has ever seen it in me. Mostly I say the right thing at the right time. I carry through. I’ve never failed to do what I said I would do, and have a reputation staked upon it. In so many ways, I’m a very functional human being.

But sometimes it infuriates me. There’s a large measure of control in being that person. It’s not conscious – it comes natural – but rarely does anything irregular or spontaneous leak from it. Listen to how measured I am describing it! The boundary is between the roiling, unpredictable self, and the self that translates that into rational and measured thought. Perhaps that’s why I write – because only then do I tap into that much more creative self. But this how I need to be I think at times like this – make mistakes, be unpredictable, go for it.

There was more of that in me before, and the truth of it is the control I speak of is what enabled me to survive homelessness and the despair that goes with it. I contained the blast to below ground, and it was a mighty effort – but I’ve been left irradiated by the job.

I commonly think that I need someone to show me the way – to take me out of that, as Muriel does Macon. I don’t know how myself, because knowing the problem doesn’t fix it and, in the meantime, everything keeps coming out smoothly.

The counterpoint to this, as it occurred to me last night, was how much I miss intellectual conversation and engagement on matters of culture and art and meaning. That’s the other side of me, questing and curious and restless.

It sometimes feels as if everything is contradiction, but I know well enough that what appears paradoxical is quite often in human nature perfectly natural. That’s not worth fighting or even wondering at. What’s worth doing is bringing the inside out.

Mondays in lockdown

I reckon I suffer more from Mondayitus now I’m working from home than I did when I had to get up early and catch a train to work. I think what gets me is that it seems pointless and empty early on a Monday morning. And perhaps, given we’re in lockdown, the knowledge that the cycle is about to repeat again, and to no obvious end. It’s a variation on Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence.

Today, it was less problematic from recent weeks when it’s been tough, but I still had to wonder why? The answer to which is – what else am I going to do? That sums it up pretty neatly.

If anything, my discontent was centred on other things.

We got the COVID plan yesterday and it added up if, like me, you’re more rationally and scientifically inclined. I could understand the logic ad the guidelines, some of which appeared self-evident, and so I would support it. Still, it had a deadening effect knowing that it would be a while yet until we enjoyed customary freedoms.

On top of that, in the afternoon, my footy team put in such a dire effort that I began to feel it. I got angry. Here I am, stuck in lockdown with few pleasures, and I settle down and have to put up with an uncommitted effort. It felt lazy and indulgent and selfish and, I thought, how dare they? That’s a conversation for another time, but I can safely say it was the last thing I needed.

There is one other aspect. I’m really quite combative and resilient by nature. I’m on the front foot generally by inclination. But I’ve found myself ground down over this journey by the negativity of others, the bitching, the moaning, the criticism and complaints. I’ve taken to muting people in my Facebook feed and do my best to ignore provocation elsewhere. But you can’t escape it when, within minutes yesterday, the state opposition leader begins his usual whine, and then the federal government put out their standard, politically charged and graceless response. Then there’re people carping about the most irrelevant of details, and others complaining it’s not clear enough for them, and you just want to scream.

I say all this knowing that almost all this noise comes external to the state, or from a rowdy one or two per cent within. As I said yesterday, most of us are supportive, but it’s oh so frustrating – and draining! – to have to listen to what is generally self-indulgent twaddle. This is hard enough as is. We’re doing our best to hang in there and stay strong and it feels like our efforts are being undermined. Don’t they understand our greatest strength is our unity? Most of us do.

I find that increasingly hard to deal with. I despise our federal ministers – Hunt and Frydenburg and Morrison – more than ever, and I’m happy for the imbecile libertarians to be locked up. Normally I’m all for independence and individual human rights, but now is the time when the rights of the many are more important.

All this chips away at you. That’s how it feels. I can be strong for a long time, but not when I’ve got someone at my back seeking to unbalance me at every step.

The next stage

I’ve just spent the last hour plus watching the daily Victorian government COVID-19 briefing. I think most of Melbourne did the same thing. This was the big press conference announcing the plan out of Stage 4 restrictions and every one of us was hanging out for it.

Expectations had been dampened over the last few days, and I think the general belief was that the current restrictions might continue a while longer. That was true as it turned out, though with important modifications. Stage 4 restrictions were extended by two weeks, until the end of September, but the curfew has been put back an hour, exercise times doubled and, most relevant to me, a bubble was announced allowing for people living alone to have a nominated visitor to their home.

The plan after that is for a gradual easing, dependent on how the infection numbers go, but it’s pretty comprehensive.

I felt a bit emotional watching it. I’m fully supportive of the science that goes into making these decisions, and though we’re not out of it, it felt like a prisoner being told he would be paroled in a couple of months. Just have to see it through until then.

That’s much easier said than done, but I think the great majority of Victorians understand the decision-making and will abide by the conditions of it. The ratbags and the odd politician make a lot of noise, but it’s amazing how many of us are willing to knuckle down and do the right thing by each other. Throughout this period, where Victoria has been the outlier, and sometime pariah, that the isolation has bonded us closer together. There’s recognition that we really are in this together, and for us to get out of it means that we all must do our bit. It makes me proud in a small way – we can be better, and here’s the proof of it.

While restrictions will continue, it will get easier from here if infections continue to fall. It will be easier a week from today than it is now, even if only in a small way. A fortnight after that it will get easier again, and so on, through the stages towards what they call a COVID-normal stage – late November.

I want to make mention of something many thousands have commented on: how impressive Dan Andrews is. As you will know, I tend to be cynical of modern politics and politicians. In general, I think they’re a rum lot. And, as a character, I’m not much given to unvarnished admiration. Among other things, my ego rarely allows for it.

I’m all in for Dan Andrews, though. His press conferences are a master class. Despite every provocation, he remains calm and measured. His command of detail is flawless. He never flounders, never backtracks, and never buys into the politics. He is a communicator par excellence, and his unflustered authority acts as a balm – it’s no wonder he has such support. I don’t think I’ve come across as Australian politician so impressive since Paul Keating. He cops a lot of flak from the edges, and of course, from the Murdoch press, but he is the leader we need at such a time – and far in advance of any other in Australia, and certainly Morrison, who epitomises mediocrity.

There’s a push for him to go federal at some stage. I have a gut feeling that won’t happen, but I think it’s a sign of how nervous he makes the federal government in how hard they attack him. Morrison has released his lieutenants to go hard at him, and the government is actively briefing journalists against him. I think it might backfire.

In Victoria, we don’t have much time for party politicking right now. We’re living it, we know what has to be done, and much of the rhetoric against Andrews comes off as trivial and irresponsible. It makes his attackers look bad. I think there’s a lot of admiration for Andrews across the country, and some of the attacks by Federal on State governments lately will steel resolve.

All that’s for the future, if at all, what’s important now is getting through this. I reckon 95% of Victorians would agree.

Father’s day for some

It’s Father’s Day today. Even in lockdown, a lot of families are doing their best to celebrate, even if it’s just breakfast in bed.

There’s no father’s day here, nor any commemoration of any type. I won’t call my dad, I haven’t sent him a card. We reconciled – if that’s the word – a little over 12 months ago. We caught up a few times for lunch in the city when I was still going into the office. I think we’ve exchanged SMS twice in the months since.

Though he’s my father, I don’t really think of him as my dad, and that’s because we’ve never really had that relationship. When I cast my mind back, the only real sense of sharing that traditional father-son relationship was when we would go to the footy together.

In fairness, we did that for many years. Every Saturday we’d pack up and head out to Waverley or the MCG or – most often – Windy Hill, and other venues now and then. I remember that quite well, and particularly the drive home afterwards listening to the footy review on the car radio.

I felt like I shared something with him then, but at no other time. More often as I grew up I was aware of a distance between us. Much later I discovered that he felt I was a rival to him when it came to mum. Eventually he came to blame me for their separation and divorce. I hadn’t the sophistication to understand that when I was a kid, but I was very aware that we weren’t friends, and there was no warmth between us.

No-one could describe my dad as a warm man. That wasn’t his thing. He was smart and fierce and determined and ambitious. He had his moments, but rarely could you say he was an easy personality. There was no whimsy in him or silliness, none of the things that lighten life up. He has no real patience for that kind of stuff, though occasionally he’ll be caught unawares and break into laughter.

There was a time I felt quite bitter at what I’d been deprived of. I’d look upon happy families and the affection shared between fathers and sons and feel a pang. Many of my friends are fathers and I observe the love and devotion they show to their children and it’s heartwarming, but poignant for me knowing I had experienced none of that. I knew no better when I was a boy, but as a grown man it seemed dreadfully sad that I’d missed out. Sometimes I would wonder what impact it had on my development as a man.

In more recent years, I’ve let the bitterness go. What happened – or didn’t happen – was unfortunate, but none of us could go back and change it. Sometimes I hoped that my father would come out and acknowledge his failures as a father, but that kind of self-knowledge is beyond him. Nor is he one to readily admit fault.

I don’t feel any particular acrimony towards him and would welcome a more intimate connection, even at this late stage. I don’t believe in it though because I don’t believe he has the humility to be that man. I haven’t contacted him for the occasion because it would feel hypocritical of me, and because I’ve given much more than he ever has.

Ultimately, that’s a big part of the issue. For years, before I knew anything of what he really felt, I made every effort to be closer to him. I believed in him as a concept, and even admired certain aspects of him – his smarts and a basic integrity. He never really reciprocated and, I think, pretty well accepted it as his due. I was a far better son to him than my sister was a daughter, but while she was showered with praise and affection, I got neither. Never have. To this day, I can’t recall an easy word.

These last few months have confirmed a general belief. When we got together again last year I was glad to put things behind us. It’s easier to let things go than to hold onto them. We got on reasonably well, but on a certain level we always did. Father and son never worked for us, and we were never friendly, but we could meet at a cerebral, intellectual level. And it appeared that he was less inclined to judge – nothing I did was ever good enough before. But having re-established contact, it’s been left to me to maintain it. He won’t pick up the phone, he won’t send a message, and I think that’s consistent with a general lack of humility that has ever been the case. It’s my job to make the effort, and I’m not buying that anymore.

Today doesn’t make me sad, but I wish things had been different.

What we have

I don’t know about others, but I like the sound of the whistling wind. It’s been windy most of the last week. Yesterday, the wind was moderate at ground level, but in the treetops it was crazy, bending and shaking, the leaves rustling and the wind sounded like the ocean. Then, morning and night, I listen to the wind whistle outside and wonder what it is that makes it whistle. It’s one of those things that if you stop to think about for a moment seems strange in a good way. You sometimes forget how much in the world is marvellous.

I was out before walking Rigby, the breeze whipping at me. The weather is warmer, and I was in short sleeves – a t-shirt overlaid with a fleecy vest. We walked up to the main road, a bandana around my nose and mouth and a beanie tight on my head. We encountered mothers with their sons zooming by happily on scooters and other dogs, always curious and wary of each other.

It’s been a better day. Yesterday was diffuse; today focussed. It felt much more productive today and organised. In between working, I took short breaks. I snatched minutes here and there watching the playoffs. I broke up some hard rubbish and took it outside. I gave the barbecue hotplates – which I used on the weekend – a thorough scouring. And I continued the quest to clean and rid myself of unnecessary stuff – why do I need two or three of the same thing? Over the last few months, I’ve disposed of many things and consolidated others. My study has never looked so sparse.

It seems this is a common activity through these days of lockdown. I think it’s as much psychological as it is practical. We’re in isolation, and it feels virtuous to unburden ourselves of earthly possessions. By necessity, we live an austere existence these days, and while on the one hand, we seek to soften that with our online shopping and Netflix binges, we let go with the other hand what we have come to understand is unnecessary to our happiness.

For everything that’s happened, I feel lighter now. I also feel a lot of things shifting in and out, good and bad, but there’s a process of consolidation which is liberating.

In a minute it’ll be cocktail hour – probably a G&T. I’ll look towards dinner. Tonight I’ll be reheating leftovers of a French chicken casserole. I’ll have an audiobook playing through my Sonos as I get organised – at the moment I’m listening to The Martian. The rest is predictable. All of it is really, but it’s what we have.

The WFH challenge

Working from home, I sometimes wonder if the people I’m dealing with are off sometimes doing something else. I’m sure that’s a great temptation, and pretty easy, too. I reckon most people I deal with are diligent, and some probably working harder than they were back in the office. There are a few who are harder to track down often, and you wonder if they’re sitting on their couch watching the NBA playoffs. No judgment from me if they are.

It’s not anything that occurs to me. I’m sometimes reluctant to drag myself to my desk, but I never think of not doing it. You could call it a good work ethic, but really, it’s an ingrained habit, more in my body than it is in my mind. This is what I do, so I do it.

I’ve been reconsidering that in the last week. I wondered if it might not be better for me if I took it a bit easier, even if I just broke it up a bit. The sheer repetition of sitting at the same desk every day and attending the same meetings becomes numbing. There’s an instinct to break free of it, to shake off the routine and assert some agency in your life. When there’s nothing else, no getting out and about, no socialising, no variety or unpredictability, then it starts to feel a bit close.

This morning I stayed in bed 10 minutes later than I normally would. It felt strange, but then I had to get up for a meeting. I’ve thought about taking 10 minutes every hour to go off and do something for myself – or at least get away from my desk. When the weather improves, I’m considering taking my laptop and working on the patio, just occasionally. And today I actually took some time – twice – to catch-up with the aforementioned NBA playoffs. It was good, sitting on the couch, cheering on the Celtics when they got over the line, then watching the Jazz narrowly lose to the Nuggets. (No skin in that game, but I’d have preferred the Jazz to win because of Joe.)

The point is, I got way from the narrow perspective of my desk and the computer screen in front of me. I shifted my mind away from work stuff and allowed for some spontaneous entertainment. Man, if I can’t do that from home just a little bit, then I’m wasting the opportunity. And, truly, I think I need it.

We’ve been told that we’ve earned some time in lieu because of the good and hard work we’ve been doing from home. There’ve been some good business results, and my stuff accounts for a fair proportion of that. It’s nice that gets recognised.

It’s harder working from home not from a motivation point of view, but because the things that are simple in the office become manual trials working from home. I can’t just wander over to someone’s desk to ask a question or see something. I can’t work with someone cooperatively as I would before. It’s either more challenging or not even worth bothering with. You cut more corners working from home, but you also do more because it’s left to you.

I’m considering changing my routine altogether – starting later and finishing later too and mixing up my day between work and the things that take me away from work.