My unusual way of looking at things perfectly equips me with the skills that count in an apocalypse – without so much as a thought let alone a coherent plan towards that end.

How honest can I be? I did say I would write as if no-one was reading and I’m feeling really honest and a small bit spiritual right now.

Thursday it’s under control, Friday we’re doomed and today I’m wondering if it is, in fact, a sinister capitalist plot?. I’m so fickle. Keeping this diary has illuminated that more brightly than ever. I must continue writing it once COVID has allowed us to resume our destructive habits.

My whimsical nature cuts across all areas of my life. Wanting a girlfriend or wanting my freedom? Going out or staying put? Invest in the future or live for today? Earlier I threw a packet of menthol cigarettes in a wheelie bin and rooted them out just now. I’m enough to drive myself insane.

I got a firecall this morning and I really didn’t want to be there. Luckily COVID meant that only two had to attend the incident and not being as highly qualified as the others I stayed back and drank coffee. The upshot left me wondering, do I even want the job anymore? Discounting of course, the hundreds of good experiences and laughs I’ve had over the last eighteen months and that are certain to come in the future. Typical me.

Not that I wasn’t previously aware, but this diary has been great to show me how I conflate fleeting feelings with the truth of my life. No wonder I’m stuck when I can’t create a vision and stick at it.

And it’s been that way ever. I once had a dream, well two actually, and briefly I held them in my hands. Then they crumbled, due in no small part to my flightful spirit. It was four years ago when the realisation of my limitations shattered the ego that had held my anxiety at bay and I became more and more reclusive and subsequently depressed.

Which means, right now, I’m feeling rather chipper in comparison to everyone else. The depression has lifted a good while, but the reclusiveness and subsequent laziness to do anything about it lingers. I was dreading the return of the sun, when I would have to leave the comfort of Netflix box sets and pretend I like doing stuff. COVID has pushed back that concern.

Which is really, bloody well, messed up.

Being delighted with social isolation has made me strikingly aware of how dysfunctional I have become, not least because part of me wants it to last forever. The real kicker though, the one that is really making me reflect, is that my life hasn’t changed under COVID in the slightest bit. Not one jot.

The two kilometre curfew has been part of my routine since I joined the Fire Brigade in late 2018. I’m well used to that. When it is lifted, normal folk will show that actually, they don’t really care about billions dying, as they return to their carbon spewing travel plans.

For retained firefighters, no difference will it make. I’m proud of that choice and sacrifice. Environmentalists should follow suit. If my son didn’t live in the next town, I wouldn’t bother with a car at all, and if l lived on a mountain with no transport that would suit me just fine.

Despite being entrenched under COVID news bombardment I’m not expanding a single calorie on fear or worry. I accept that it’s easy for me as I have done all my grieving. My family of origin was never a big part of my children’s life, which surprised and hurt me in years gone by. I understand now through the lense of experience but I also learned to shut the door. My grief was spent years ago. Who’s going to miss my parents? Not my sons who barely know them, not me. We needed them once, but we got through without just the same.

As a blow in, there are no cousins, no connections, no one at all to worry about outside of my children who are young and thankfully strong and will easily shake off the plague. Once I packed in the drink and similar frivolities, the few people who did call round for a can and a smoke stopped calling. Which is fine: I love them but I’ve moved on.

Anxiety and fear have kept me pinned inside my apartment and – as the town I lived in got busier and busier due to the economic recovery – the walls closed in tighter and tighter. No way would the beautiful and talented artisans who infested my living space accept a rudeboy like me and no way would I adapt for kudos. I finally reached a point where I felt I had actually died and was just waiting for my body to catch on. On a level I think that is true. The world outside grew dim and meaningless. The beauty spot I walked the dog was a hallucination, my life an illusion of a deeper truth I do not comprehend.

I’m told we should have empathy, that we should not minimise the feelings of people right now. Well, if by empathy you mean ‘Do I understand?’ – of course I do! Welcome to the world of the recluse.

If I say I care though, I really don’t, not with any conviction (how can I give from what I haven’t received?). If I say I do online don’t believe me, I’m lying, virtual signaling in case you might like me, adapting for the kudos. I lied about that too.

I adjusted to the COVID reality years ago. Like ancestors who lived in dangerous centuries past. Everybody has to in the end, or they will leave this mortal coil a shivering denizen of fear.

It’s ironic then to find that my unusual way of looking at things perfectly equips me with the skills that count in an apocalypse – without so much as a thought let alone a coherent plan towards that end. I wonder what is pulling my strings and begin to wonder about the nature of my living death and the concept of spiritual rebirth that all religions seem to require. Was that the purpose of the suffering? Or am I just repeating the Gospels of my forebears to find meaning for the chaos outside and the numbness within?

I might never know but I ask the Great Mystery if it listens at all, to fill me with new dreams, new loves and new compassion and I ask it to ground me in this reality so I can work to those ends. And if I can’t feel pity for my anxious fellows in the COVID days, I ask it to soothe their troubled souls…