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I feel guilty. The story of a grasshopper.

April 12, 2020

I feel guilty. The day starts and I start my usual ritual. Coffee beans, 16gr weighted, manually grind them, drop them in the aeropress, pour hot water (not boiling), make my coffee. In the meanwhile I toast two slices of bread. Peanut butter, banana, walk to my laptop, sit down and catch up with messages from friends and family. We talk way more than before. That’s actually a wonderful thing. Why didn’t we do that before?

Hyde Park during sunset.

Then I read some news and close them soon after. There is exactly nothing new. More random numbers, more random opinions. Fear and the realization we know nothing. We hear people dying and all we do is being happy and greatful that it’s not us or our family. The Greek poet George Seferis puts it very lyrically in one of his poems:

[…] Man is soft and thirsty like grass, greedy like grass, his nerves are like roots and they spread, and when the reap comes he prefers for the scythe to be heard in another field. […]

In spite of all that death we are still here, in our isolation observing. And yet, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not learning more about JavaScript or AWS. I fee guilty for not picking up the guitar to learn more chords. I feel guilty for not baking those cookies. I feel guilty for not running more or working out more. I feel guilty for not continue doing all these decadent things I did before.

I probably avoid observing close enough. Because if I observe enough, if I look closer, I will see that same thing I saw that day when they called me and told me my father was in a hospital and might not make it (he did). I see our mortality. I see our social constructs not mattering at all. I see the worst and the best in humanity all at once. And for some reason I feel guilty. Responsible even.

We lived in the age of plenty and we didn’t prepare. If we were to make a parallel with the ant and the grasshopper from Aesop’s fables, we are the freaking grasshopper. All that wealth accumulated for what? Underpaid hospital workers, underfunded science and research, personal relationships discounted and an obscene worry about a make-believe concept we made some years back, “The Economy”.

That’s not what makes me really guilty though. What makes me really guilty is that I’m afraid we won’t learn. We say “this too shall pass”, but if it doesn’t leave a lasting mark and a learning all those deaths were for nothing. If by some miracle we are able to find a medicine or a vaccine that protects us and we get out of this we really need to check our priorities.

In the meanwhile I’ll follow what Nick Cave said recently in one of his blog posts:

[…], there are other forms of engagement, open to us all. An email to a distant friend, a phone call to a parent or sibling, a kind word to a neighbour, a prayer for those working on the front lines. These simple gestures can bind the world together — throwing threads of love here and there, ultimately connecting us all — so that when we do emerge from this moment we are unified by compassion, humility and a greater dignity. Perhaps, we will also see the world through different eyes, with an awakened reverence for the wondrous thing that it is. This could, indeed, be the truest creative work of all.

Love you all.


Thoughts of a developer, a photographer, a runner, a cook. All of them the same person. George is also on Twitter!

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