2020 In Retrospect

My point of view on the year 2020 is hardly objective. We were supposed to have departed for New Zealand in March 2020. Interviews were lined up with some companies in Christchurch. There were prospects of starting to work there by June 2020, maybe earlier. My partner had a job offer. The only requirement was that the company wanted to see him before formerly making an offer. Easy-peasy, a visitor’s visa could help accomplish that. By end 2020 we would have been sort of settled in New Zealand in our new home. Everything seemed planned and straight-forward. No such luck.

Best laid plans of mice and men.

Covid-19 lock-downs happened a few days before departure date. We ended up in Jax’s Place in Edenvale. The few days stay turned into a few weeks, and then a few months. Despite the extended stay our hosts was always gracious, hospitable and helpful. We were lucky to have been able to stay there. Guest house stays does cost money. It becomes quite expensive when you have no idea when that stay will be coming to an end.

2021©Anthony Gillespie
Jax Place, Edenvale, Gauteng, South Africa

2020 Positives.

Work have always been an escape when things bug you for which you have no solutions; when you feel down or struggle to process something that happened. Having a lot of work is a good distraction from every day issues. It makes it easier to survive loss and trauma. At the expense of your own mental well-being. It does affect the physical as well as the mental aspect. You rarely realize how much strain your body takes, when not dealing with the matters of the mind as needed.

Small mercies.

I am thankful that 2020 has allowed me the opportunity to have some time for myself. I could spend more time with my partner and family. Being on my own for most of my life; a 5-minute hi and bye was very often at the order of the day when I was dating. Working night shift, being at the office for extended periods of times beyond the normal 8 hours, was the norm that both neglected and deterred friends and family.

Realizing that, it is not a surprise that few previous flings lasted longer than a few months or ever developed into more. There is no better stunt in relationship growth than always prioritizing work above personal commitments. Surprisingly, my partner stuck around the last few years. It could not have been easy. In 2020, I have learned that I want more time for myself and my partner. I also learned how to do rock-building, lay paving, fix leaking water pipes. Working in a garden can be a welcome distraction from being stuck in front of a pc for extended periods of time.

Volunteer work.

My partner and I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work in Eastern Cape in 2020. Communal gardening, some maintenance, water pipe repairs and rock building projects, among other things. We left there, leaving something behind that we know will be there for a while, to be used and enjoyed by visitors that go there in the future, also serving as an anchor the ground on the steep hill. It is an awesome feeling knowing something will stay behind for a while, a lot of manual labour went into creating and building it. Volunteer work is probably something we would not have done if it was not for Covid-19 lockdowns. We would love travelling and volunteer in other countries, maybe see somewhat of the world, but after 3 visa applications being turned due to lockdowns already, that seems like a pipe dream. Exploring the possibilities, but the viabilities seem to be at odds.

Final look, rock building in front of one of the safari tents built as part of a volunteer project. The small outcrop serves as a small stoep in front of the tent, a step up the hill, and also anchors the ground on the steep hill. The plants still need to grow.
Rock Building Project. Wild Lubanzi, Eastern Cape, South Africa

An unclear future.

We have no idea what is going to happen with our Visa’s, or exactly what the future holds for us. There is fear, but I believe we will survive and prosper. I may be proven wrong in my assumption somewhere in the near future. The positive here; if you have to start job hunting, you can go to any place where you want to be. It is not necessary staying somewhere you dislike because work is there. Unemployed is as unemployed does; you can pretty much do that anywhere; as does remote work if you can actually find it.

2020 has also given me the opportunity to start studying again. Studying, that is a struggle at age 46. Your mind seem to cover all the other things you should be doing, instead of studying. That off switch just do not always work well, despite your best efforts.

I guess the same story apply to many other people. 2020 has caused its fair share of damage. People will be struggling with these challenges for a considerable time to come. So far we were lucky; we had some income from odd freelance jobs, had food and a roof over our heads. Having some kind of skill set that allows us to return the favour does make it easier. It does not feel like that every day. Life seems unsettled and the future unclear. We see a lot of people struggling out there, and occasionally try to help, but that is not always possible. Hopefully 2021 looks better for everybody out there, and the future will be brighter going into 2021.

Disturbing realizations and Bitcoin jackers.

I am pretty good at what I do, and used to like doing it. I believe I have always been a decent team leader; and a pretty good graphic designer. Not only that, but I can certainly teach people a few tricks when it comes to my trade; having done it for over 20 years. I have also discovered I am much more productive when working from home, rather than from an office. Try convincing an employer of that one.

The idea of sitting behind a desk for 12-16 hours a day has lost its appeal. I can’t help but think I want to change careers. However, I have no idea which way to head or how exactly to go about it. Working in it, and stumbling along the way. It would be nice not to be bombarded by Bitcoin jackers around every corner when looking for remote opportunities online though. I am wondering how many other people are struggling with similar realizations, and how they are dealing with it?