I have lost track of time. You, too?
Is it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday? All the things that gave my week structure are gone- no more dropping my daughter off at the daycare in the morning, no more regular work-hours, no mid-week basketball game. Let alone all the family visits, festivities or summer holidays that we have all yearned for.

Last Friday, ironically, marked May 1st, labour day. In a time where unemployment and short-time work are spiking globally. And this is only the beginning.

Stuck in the sauna and infinite tunnels

Never have I experienced the surrounding world to be on-hold like this. Mobility-wise the eruption of Islandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 comes close. I vividly remember these days, because I got stuck in a Sauna with Jeff Jarvis as a Q&A after his re:publica keynote. And then, the volcano ash had grounded all aviation in Central Europe, forcing Jeff to join a carpool to Munich and catch one of the last flights back home to NYC. But that's a different story.

Please wait while we try to sort out the situation.

Mobility is one thing- but the halt of our social and cultural lives for weeks takes another toll. It creates a weird feeling somewhere along the lines of the neverending "spinner" progress bar when installing new software- or maybe entering a tunnel of horror ride, unknown how long and which turns it might take, which creepy surprises wait for us in the dark. It made me think of Friedrich Dürenmatt's short story The Tunnel:

"The protagonist is a 24-year-old student, a fat and cigar-smoking loner, who boards his usual train to reach his university, but surprisingly, when the train enters a very small tunnel, the tunnel doesn’t end. The darkness continues for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes. The student gets nervous, but the other passengers are calm, because they don’t see (or don’t want to see) the imminent catastrophe."
– Source: Wikipedia

Public Morale vs. COVID-19

Given the likeliness of an infection backlash and/or second wave(s) of the pandemic, I wonder how long the public morale in Germany and countries across the globe will last. How will our societies cope with restricitions, cutbacks, unemployment, death, uncertainty, fear? How long until we will see light at the end of the tunnel?
From what we know right now, the pandemic is here to stay for months if not years. At least until a vaccine is available– and the estimations until it arrives circle around 1–1,5 years.

In any case, we do not really know where the "pandemic progress bar" stands right now. There are too many uncertainties and unknowns, the situation is still rather dynamic as the scientists from Robert Koch Institute remind us day by day.

Back in the dark days of WW2, the British government utilized a wide public campaign to keep the citizens' morale up. One poster prompted that "your courage your cheerfulness your resolution will bring us victory". Sounds a bit similar to what governments require from their citizens these days, doesn't it?

Now make your bed!

Enough of the dark tunnel talk! I thought this post was supposed to be motivational?!
In his Afternoon Slow newsletter, Russel Davies pointed to Annie Atkin's COVID-19 motivational posters. They made me smile AND laugh. So before we go all wartime-morale, let's get ourselves and our homes back in shape.

First put on your jeans, feel aright, then have dinner.

Not Fur’ Long is another initiative that made me smile: a group of London-based advertising people (top notch, they say), have been sent into paid leave (furloughed). Now they are offering their talent and expertise elsewhere:

"So, instead of starting a podcast or learning the art of baking sourdough, we decided to set up Not Fur’ Long and use our time to help charities and small businesses that has been impacted by these challenging times."

On top of this I thought it might help you to hear that some smart people are arguing against the urge for productivity in a pandemic:

"You don’t have to write your novel. You don’t have to reorganize your closet. Burying yourself in mindless busywork is not the solution."
Nick Martin in The New Republic.

We will make it out of this tunnel, too.

Thanks for reading!

– Matthias