Monday, November 30, 2020

The grey month

November has always been associated with depression, but this year, we all have a bunch of reasons to be sad. 
  • 2/11 terroristic attack in the heart of Vienna
  • 4/11 and 11/11 Remembrance Day for the end of WWI
  • 12/11 one-year anniversary after the "flood" in Venice and 17 years after the terroristic attack against the Italian army in Nasiriyah 
  • 13/11 5 years after the terroristic attack in Paris, which changed Europe
Not to mention the Christian celebrations in November, from All Souls' Day (2/11) to the Buß- und Bettag (18/11). In addition, we are in the middle of a pandemic, which is not getting any better, it led to a second lockdown in Austria and will hamper the possibility to celebrate Christmas with the family in Italy. This year has been bad enough, but I'm afraid that it will be even worse. We hope in 2021, but we don't know whether it will actually be better or not.
Prato della Valle (Padova) in the fog.
Apart from those anniversaries and events, the sky is often grey, the temperature is already quite low and the daylight every day shorter. If we add the social distancing recommended in the fight against the pandemic, we have the perfect recipe for depression

Well, except for the pandemic, the other sadness factors are the same every year. How did I survive this grey period in the past? As Facebook constantly remember, I was travelling, meeting friends and family, going to concerts and operas, and splitting my time between intense work and music practising. This year, I cannot travel, thus I cannot visit my parents. It is allowed to meet just one friend at the time and possibly always the same person, but I'm not meeting anyone except virtually. Concerts, operas, and even religious services are cancelled. Some of these activities take place on the web now. I meet colleagues and friends, I have lunch or dinner with my parents, I watch concerts and operas live, I attend scientific conferences in the USA and Japan, everything in front of a screen. Music practising is still allowed, especially since I bought a digital organ, which even enables virtual lessons. Fur sure, not the same as meeting my teacher or my pupils in person, playing a real instrument in a cold church, but better than nothing. In addition, I'm not regularly going to the office. Many of us are working again from home. The daily discussions (sometimes even arguments) moved onto WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype or via e-mail. I have to drink my coffee and cook my lunch, but I can use my personal toilet and I can work in slippers and pyjama. Nevertheless, I miss the interaction with colleagues. 
However, what kills the most in this period is the uncertainty. The hesitation of politicians in defining a line of conduct. The question marks on the re-opening of the normal activities and on Christmas celebrations. Everyone can survive a period of loneliness and isolation, but not knowing when (or if) this will end is terrible and makes this month one of the saddest of the year.