March 15, 2020, 11:54 p.m.

Life is a game

A new virus has hit China and is spreading rapidly around the world, threatening the survival of mankind. It has inevitably now arrived in your country and with exponentially increasing infections, it may just be a matter of time before you contract it. Do you……...

  • Stockpile for the rest of your expected lifetime and lock yourself in your house, refusing any face-to-face contact (anyone could be a potential infection carrier……Armageddon is here!)

  • Carry on life as normal but take the advised precautions (stockpiling is for selfish idiots and even if you do contract it, you’ll probably survive it, but you want to minimise the risk and you also don't want to spread it to others in case you do get it)?

  • Ignore all sensible advice and continue life as if the virus never existed (germs are good for you and we’re all going to die one day anyway so…….carpe diem!)?

If life was some sort of board game, then the coronavirus would be a curveball card, the outcome differing depending on the choices you (and indeed, many others) make. Whilst appreciating the gravity of the pandemic, I’m trying to see it in a more light-hearted manner because we don’t have any choice but to laugh at the absurdity of the situation when we turn up at the supermarket for the weekly shop to find the shelves completely cleared of loo roll, pasta, tinned stuff and even sugar, as I found today (how quickly do people get through a 1kg bag of sugar?! – No wonder this country has an obesity problem).

It’s better (healthier) than ranting or complaining, which is understandable and perhaps shouldn’t even be surprising, especially in individualistic cultures. Collective human behaviour seems fairly predictable in an unprecedented situation with a much higher degree of uncertainty than even Brexit (there were news reports on demand for ‘Brexit survival’ kits, including packs of freeze-dried food, founded by fears of a no deal exit from the EU). Even if misguided, it comes from a need of control and a place of fear, a feeling we’ve all felt at some time or other in our lives and so, more than anything else in the world right now, this situation calls for kindness. It calls for empathy, even if it brings up feelings of frustration because of the inconvenience of running low on a necessity and needing to try and find somewhere else that has stock. After all, is a lack of empathy for others (driven by fear) not arguably what causes people to stockpile in the first place? If we don’t at least try to understand why people do this, are we therefore not displaying the same fault that we see so clearly and criticise in others? More importantly, we can only attempt to rectify these things and change people’s attitudes and behaviour from the place of calmness that empathy engenders. It also calls for acceptance. This is how certain people have decided to play the game, whether we like it or not; this is the hand we’ve been dealt.


“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” said Hamlet. While I don’t agree 100% with this quote – things are rarely ideal, and the coronavirus outbreak is obviously not preferable, particularly if we’re unlucky enough to catch it ourselves (which is not too dissimilar a perception to ‘bad’) - I think the sentiment is right; we have to deal with things, everything that life throws our way. Let go of idealism and embrace pragmatism (while also accepting the inevitable element of luck in life). Sometimes appraising a situation in a certain way can hinder us in our ability to tackle it effectively. Maybe it might even be helpful to approach the outbreak from a perspective of curiosity. It’s like the start of a sci-fi movie only, rather than having front-row seats, the whole world finds itself centre-stage as the protagonist. How is this adventure going to unfold? How will it end?

No-one really knows but what we do know is how we can – without sounding like a Brexit politician – take back control in a healthier way. Count our blessings and the good things we have been fortunate to experience in life in the face of the media bombardment of bleak facts and predictions. Look after ourselves and look out for each other. Remember that us humans are a more resilient and resourceful bunch than we realise. In essence, do our best to play our cards right. Life is a game but it is one we can play with hope, gratitude and determination.

(I was originally going to write a blog post later on the same theme, but applied to a different situation, specifically delaying on making a decision on accommodation only to then find that they had raised the weekly rent just before I finally took the plunge……kind of like landing on the ‘Pay $200 – Income Tax’ square on Monopoly. The coronavirus seemed a bit more pertinent to say the least and certainly helped me to put that mistake in perspective!)

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