4 min readAug 17, 2021

Fighting the novel and re-embracing the familiar

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

It was a cold that brought me back to myself. I want to pin “in the end” onto the conclusion of that sentence, but it would be presumptive to say that we’re at the end of anything given, well, everything.

Like so many people, I’ve found the last eighteen months or so deadening, alienating, and isolating. As a chronic introvert, I am not especially perturbed by isolation, but the pandemic’s effects are a bizarre sort of parody of the restorative quiet and silence I need, like something out of Greek myth, the annihilating force of a careless mortal’s wish fulfilled only too well by a God who’s honour-bound to deliver on it, consequences be damned.

In the time that Covid has been contracting our world, I’ve left a job I didn’t love because, while I could tolerate it when I had space and time to do other things (write, exercise, read), I could no longer accept its demands when I didn’t have enough spoons to go around. That means I’ve left myself trapped in a performance of freelancer contentment for still-well-employed friends.

I’ve tried to write when it felt like there was nothing much in the world worth saying, and doom-scrolling was all that felt possible. That means I’ve got twice as many unfinished drafts as I did when I started.

I’ve simultaneously developed a Morton’s neuroma that’s stopped me running and a perpetual sciatic nerve problem that’s left me needing to run and walk and move to keep my posterior chain from seizing up completely. That means I’ve ricocheted back and forth between braving pricey medical practitioners’ waiting rooms and skimming websites and books about how to fix yourself with core training, or toe yoga, or something else entirely.

I’ve been trapped in an uncooperative body and uncooperative brain. Maybe you have too.

This isn’t a Covid-19 story, though. This is a story about an entirely unnovel coronavirus, I promise (or maybe a rhinovirus, but let’s not quibble).

I can only assume I picked up this plain old cold teaching at a week-long intensive summer school for 15-year-olds who’ve missed out on huge chunks of teaching at a critical time in their education. I don’t want to diminish the work here; it was important and necessary, an effort to give back…


HE operations manager; Coach; Writer of many things; Runner. In no particular order.