Lewis Pugh, an ocean advocate who has swum in icy oceans and turbulent seas, knows about endurance and the elasticity of time. In a podcast late last year he spoke about the challenge of long-distance swims, and when I heard his words last week they resonated powerfully.
”The thing about long-distance swimming is how the goalposts can shift,” he said. ”You think you’re going to do a 10-hour swim and then you get to the coast of France and suddenly a current picks you up and it’s going to be a 15-hour swim. You think it’s going to be 15 hours and suddenly it’s 20 hours.
”It can break your mind. And so you have to be able to have that resilience when the goalposts shift. Because they will shift. And they never shift in the direction you want them to shift. To keep on going, to put one arm in front of the next and to recalibrate yourself.”
In a way it’s what we have been doing for 100 days, watching lockdowns extend and recalibrating our lives. We flinch from the phrase ”flattening the curve” and live according to a curious calendar. We think not in months or seasons, but in circuit breakers. Spring is passing us by and we barely care because we’re busy excavating a grit we never knew we had.
A hundred days is just a marker of how far we’ve come, a signpost, but it’s not a promise of anything. We don’t know if this is halfway to normality, or far away, because this virus doesn’t just sicken and kill, it teases and shifts our goalposts. Like Pugh in the water, we must endure.
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