It’s pointless to talk about political responses to Covid-19. Things are changing by the hour and we are already bombarded with up-to-the-minute information on the radio, television and online. Around-the-clock news channels are feeding our hunger to learn about every new measure, success and failure, death and recovery, as the virus and its economic impact sweep the planet, separating us from our loved ones and ruining our finances.
It has forced us into isolation. We sit staring at the world through our windows and screens, wondering what just happened, knowing that this is our best chance to beating the virus.
While here in Spain we’ve already been indoors for a few days, the British government has been resisting isolation, issuing lofty statements about personal liberty and refusing to close leisure venues. However, I can tell you that solitude is so all that bad. After all, it’s a way of life for translators.
While office workers are luxuriating in the pleasure of getting up late, wearing slippers and pyjamas all day, not combing their hair for a week, not catching the bus or train and raiding the fridge whenever they feel like it, translators understand the dangers of the biscuit tin, the need to stretch and move around regularly and how to make time fly by getting down to some ‘deep work’.
As for loneliness, translators are quite self-sufficient. The act of translating involves entering a kind of ‘trance’ state, where words, meanings and creativity can flow freely from our brains, through our fingers and onto the screen. This state almost impossible to achieve when there are other people around wanting to chat and interact.
To deal with our self-inflicted separation from society, some translators – including me – forge long-term caring relationships with project managers whose faces they have never seen. I truly enjoy the comfortable companionship of communicating online.
So now is a good time to nurture those cyber-pals, to add some friendly words of encouragement to your emails, to tell people you’re thinking about them and thank them for remembering you. Why not write to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. It’ll be better for your mental health than watching the news.
Stay safe, stay in. This too shall pass.