In times of Corona, the little things of the past have become the big desires of the present. I don’t dream of visiting the Great Wall of China, but of being able to sit in a caffè and drink a latte macchiato. The fact that I can drink the same latte macchiato at home doesn’t diminish the longing one bit. On the contrary, it makes it grow every day. I try to remember the last time I ate out and realise that it was last year. The desires become smaller but their fulfilment more difficult, or even almost hopeless.
A lot has changed. For all of us, for me. I have the good fortune to be able to work from home. What this has led to is obvious. I work around the clock. I don’t think I’ve ever worked as much as I have in the last 12 months in my life. The intensity has increased and maybe I’m even more productive than before but having fun at work is something else. Something is missing and that every day, every hour – the exchange, the spontaneity, the unexpected, the encounters, the people. I am driven by the agenda. One video conference on Zoom, Teams, Skype and what they are all called follows the next. The first one starts at 7 am with the Australian colleagues. It ends punctually at 8 a.m., because the next one starts at 8 a.m.. And so it goes all day until late in the evening when I talk to Mexico or the USA. In between, I have to deal with all the emails that land in my inbox and send out some replies myself. There is either no time at all or extremely little time for breaks or creative breathing. Every now and then I just have to end a conference 5 minutes early because my laptop, as long as the battery and the internet keep up, can keep going, however, the body needs its biological break.
I observe a phenomenon again and again: if a meeting is scheduled for an hour, people pretty much always use up the hour. But if the same meeting is only organised for 30 minutes, the same thing can be solved in 30 minutes. After that, you can’t stay anyway, because the next meeting is already waiting. Real mental work is thus postponed to the marginal hours – very early in the morning or late in the evening. I can easily fill 12 hours day after day. There is no room for a muse. The whole thing is very exhausting. The screen is never forgiving and woe betide you if you are unfocused for a few seconds and poke your nose or ear. All the participants (maybe 2 and maybe 40) get that, on a screen with only a few centimetres between them. I can’t stand sitting at the screen for more than 4 hours a day, being watched without realising it myself but suspecting it all the time. I can talk for a long time but the image is too exhausting for me in the long run. Nevertheless, I love what I do. I have an incredibly exciting job that brings something new every hour, where I learn something new every day, where the problems to be solved may be enormous, sometimes even monstrously big. With the effect that when you have managed to overcome them, it feels like a ski tour when you reach the top of the mountain after 6 hours of demanding climbing and get a fantastic view over the mountain range. I am aware of my privilege and grateful for it. I do what I love, usually succeed in producing the desired results and get paid for it. What luck!! But now I have to get out! For a weekend. For one day. I book a hotel less than 2 hours away from me and drive away.
I sit on the terrace, have no plans and no agenda. Not having to do anything for a change and being able to enjoy the sun and my latte macchiato, simply wonderful. And just at that moment, the sparrows come. As is the custom in better coffee houses, the coffee is served with a small biscuit or something sweet. My sweets are usually left behind. This time too. Instead, the sparrows come with unbelievable impudence. I’m sitting there and they walk calmly up to my cup. Courage or arrogance, impudence or hunger? I don’t know what they are up to, but I watch them with anticipation. After the little agile sparrows have explored the terrain, a strong sparrow flies in and flies straight to my biscuit. I’m really curious to see what he does now. It only takes a few seconds. The sparrow grabs the biscuit and is gone. Just an organised crime! The little ones assess the situation and the strongest then comes to get the loot.
A win-win situation. I was finally able to enjoy my latte on the terrace and the sparrows filled their bellies too!!!