The lockdown narrative may be getting stale for some, and some nations may have even lifted their lockdown completely. It feels as if the pandemic, or if not the pandemic, then at least the hard lockdown, is over. But it’s not. Not yet and not for us here in shivering South Africa. We and perhaps you are still under hard lockdown. It’s just that it has been so long now and we are so used to it that this actually feels like the new norm and so we might forget what life used to be like. We might become complacent and familiar with our imprisonment and begin feeling at home in our cell, which is actually our home still.
The end is nigh though, as we move to level 3 lockdown in five days, on 1 June. With a somewhat lighter lockdown in sight, it is as if the psychological lockdown is lifting. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel so we are breathing a sigh of relief and reviving our hope in the future. And the entire planet is easing into the new norm now, going back to the old norm but with embellishments, like social distance, wear a mask, no contact, and such bizarre recommendations.
And the intense concern may have lifted as we all become so used to the hype on media channels. Even the media channels themselves may start reporting on other subject matter, and what a relief. I guess we are all just saturated with covid news. Of course, the reality is that I am still under hard lockdown this week. And even next week, I may be able to exercise freely and roam about as I used to anywhere at any time (I’m not sure about the night curfew yet) but when it comes to my work or income-generating business or survival that it used to provide – that is still in hard lockdown and will be for some time, perhaps months because it involves people travelling and travel is one of the last things that will be opening up, perhaps only at level 1 or zero.
And that may be months away. It took us two months to go from level 5 to level 3, so it may be several months before our country and in fact all nations open their borders to international travel. Even domestic travel between provinces may be restricted. So with no travel, I have no work or income. Thus I remain still jobless, unable to get back to work, while the rest of the country seems to be getting on with it, back to normal. I feel left out, forgotten, stuck in limbo, left behind, as if it’s now my fault that I am penniless, unable to pay my rent, unable to earn my basic income like I used to for years until now.
But it’s not my fault. I am just a victim of the random fall of the dice here, a victim of circumstance. I just happen to be in the very industry that is hardest hit of them all – tourism and travel. We are all going bankrupt in this industry, from massive legacy corporations to small one-man businesses like me. We are being left in the dust of history and the gutter of the new world. We are the collateral damage and detritus of the dying old order. Or so it seems to me today.
Perhaps I just have to wait another month or two until my old clients resume their travel again and call on my services. But if and when flights or holiday trips are permitted, will you travel? Would you be as keen to take a flight or a holiday, or take time off work to go overseas or up country to visit family? Do you even have the spare cash for such a luxury, or the time, having lost two months already? Many will think twice about their old holiday trips and time out, and so I sit here “waiting for Godot”, wondering if I will ever be relevant again, wondering if my life will ever get a jump start, a reboot. My bank balance is at ground zero already, so I have surrendered to the mercy and compassion of those who want money from me, like the landlord, etc.
Schools may also still be under lockdown from next week. And people usually go on holiday with their kids. The entire school year is up in the air. The children then, like me, are also in limbo this entire year then. The curriculum will apparently be revised to factor in the two month loss of schooling. And parents are not obliged to send their kids back yet either, so they, like me, are going to be out of sorts this whole year. They may have to redo a year. Kids and college youth may have just lost an entire year of their precious youth to this lockdown. And the money for fees I presume.
I don’t mind taking one for the team, so to speak. The nation has been saved from apparent pandemic and massive deaths form contagion. But then Japan and Sweden never went into lockdown at all, and their stats or positive cases are much like any other country who did go into hard lockdown, which makes me feel that this whole thing was for nothing. It was overkill, which is oddly enough an ironic turn of phrase in this instance. It was certainly overkill on the economy, which is a walking corpse now, and our financial situation on the ground. That got a real bludgeoning.
So there are probably many of us who took a knock for the team, for the nation, the human race, in this lockdown which supposedly preserved many lives. So they say. I personally wonder about that. Japan and Sweden speak volumes in this global stage show, where you can’t tell who is acting, who is a crisis actor, and who is really legitimate. You can no linger take anyone at face value, we cannot take our leaders or our health care experts seriously any more. It was all way over the top, way overboard, locking down the planet like this for months.
Better safe than sorry, you may say. Well I am seriously less safe than I was before lockdown. I had a regular income, with clients booking my services all year long, for years now. And all of that is gone, not a single booking of my services left. I am hopeful that the industry will resume – perhaps in our Spring, in three or four months from now. But I will have to sit though this winter penniless, without any sign of even a possible resumption of the old norm. Who knows what the industry will look like after this? This is uncharted territory.
I have my backup fortunately as a writer now. I have become officially a professional writer for a living, and you are reading my work. This is now how I earn a living, how I feed myself, how I pay rent and buy fuel and everything. I feel quite impressed with myself. I am an elite brand of creative genius. I compose prose and poetry, as well as journalistic narrative and op-ed works full time. That means daily every day, if I want to eat. Thanks to the new online digital economy I can publish like this and get paid in cryptocurrency, aka digital currency which I then sell for local fiat, if I find a buyer to trade with. So the system is slightly more complex and precarious, but it can work in the long run as more people realize that we are all going digital in time.
The entire world is going off paper money and all nations will go toward digital fiat, saying goodbye to paper notes. I may just be a step ahead of the herd here dealing in cryptocurrency already. It may seem weird for most but it is the new norm. Work form home, online, self-publishing and earning currency, while never leaving the house, or seeing a paper bank note anywhere in the economic chain. It’s all on the blockchain. And I feel good about that. I feel smart, self-empowered and I see that I am a leader after all, a trend-setter, as are all of you reading this if you are doing anything similar here.
So goodbye old order, and hello new world order. If you can’t beat them, join them. Be the change. It is inevitable so adapt or die. Warren Buffet, the biggest Wall Street trader in modern history, is a dinosaur that is also going extinct because he could not adapt. He only invested in stocks that he understood, like airlines, etc. He never took to tech stocks and certainly hated digital or cryptocurrency like the plague (or the virus nowadays). And where did that get him? Well, he lost out on the best performing asset of the century when he missed Bitcoin, that’s for sure. And as for those airline stocks of his, they fell out of the sky like a Boeing Dreamliner on a sleepy Sunday morning. Airline stocks are crashing, if you’ll allow the pun. And Buffet is eating his words right now. Dumping his airline stocks only months after buying them as the very same travel industry that no longer provides my income also deprives him of his fat profits.
Thus the pandemic hoax and the lockdown that followed has crushed the mighty as well as the little guy like me. And then there are those restaurants and hotels that will all go bust right now I presume. It worked well while it lasted, but normality was overrated, so we trashed it, collectively speaking. Now we pick up the pieces and put ourselves back together, pulling ourself towards ourselves, and reinventing our careers as best we can. Some, like the part-time migrant workers in India, who left the rural village and worked in the big cities like Mumbai and Calcutta, they were forced to evacuate and walk 500-1000km back home, in what took them weeks of walking. Some may still be walking right now. They will never return to the cities to look for work again, not in the numbers that they did before this calamity. I heard them personally say so in an interview. Their lives will also be relegated to the trash heap of history and their nation may be set back a decade.
We may all be set back a decade in one way or the other on a national GDP level. It will be uneven, but on average the knock we took globally from this unnecessary overkill was a bit too much to bear, like a world war. Deaths, losses, depression, all the ravages of war have hit us. And not a bomb was dropped doing it. Not a building was destroyed. The infrastructure is all still there, only it’s empty and lifeless, like the massive malls in USA, now standing bankrupt and empty like white elephants on the parched African Savannah, waiting for the rain to remind them that they are still alive. But sometimes the rain doesn’t arrive in time, so those malls will die, and the little retail shops inside the malls will also die. Giant skeletons will remain. All preserved but hollow, empty and lifeless because money is the life blood of the economy, and when the velocity of money slows to a trickle like it has now, we all simply dry up and wither away to dust in the wind. From India to America, with South Africa in between, we are all experiencing the drought and it may be decades before we see the rain, if ever.