Not wishing to tempt fate but I’ve partially locked down now for over two weeks and pretty well completely for five days which is usually how long it takes for symptoms to show.
On Friday, feeling a bit stir-crazy indoors I walked into town, had an unnecessary browse round one of the few shops open and did a bit of eBay posting.
How stupid was that I’ve since thought so at last I’m taking the lockdown seriously meaning the only way I can catch this virus is if my key worker wife brings it home from work and she’s being ultra-careful.
Even if I’m in the clear with coronavirus that, of course, doesn’t stop me dying from all the other things you used to worry about before the pandemic began.
For the last few Tuesdays I’ve been watching Celebrity Great British Bake Off which raises money for the charity Stand Up To Cancer. Before every advert break viewers are reminded that one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime and that’s not even the primary cause of death which is heart failure and stroke.
The truth is, or course, that once this pandemic is all over we’re all going to die, around half a million of us every year in the UK. We fill up our normal lives with so much noise and activity that it takes our minds off this inevitability.
The greater awareness of our mortality brought on by the pandemic coupled with the time to think about it brought on by the lockdown could be seen as a unique opportunity.
When I let thoughts of death pop into my head as they do from time to time I’m always reminded of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ words after he’d faced cancer surgery for the first time:
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.“
Knowing that I would choose death – just not now – over living forever gives me some comfort.
The thought of going on into eternity terrifies me even more so I’m going to try and use these quiet weeks at home to confront this reality and start to learn to live to with it.
I know at nearly 60 I’m still young and hopefully have many decades ahead of me but my final day is getting closer as it is for everyone. If I can think about the inevitability of death, face up to it, use it as a motivator I believe it will make the later years of my life an even more positive experience.
The pandemic and the lockdown are giving me that chance.