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Words: Roger Clark
We've been asking some of our favourite video gaming talent about how they're handling the pandemic, lockdown and finding positives and motivation at a quite unprecedented time. Here's a letter from Roger Clark, best known in gaming as Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2.
So this time last year I was doing good. I was on the keto diet and portion control and my Christmas fat, along with a bit more, was falling off fairly well. I was also doing a dry January and found myself waking up easier and easier every morning. I felt the healthiest I had done in a while.
My family was good. My youngest had started kindergarten that year, so my wife and I had full days to ourselves for the first time in years. We would go on luncheon dates and I was able to record some of my voice-over work in the day as well as nights, so I was sleeping better and longer.
It was starting to get a little warmer when I started reading some concerning articles on the internet about some new virus that seemed to be taking a toll in Wuhan, China.
I had heard of Wuhan before. I had actually toured there doing Shakespeare about 10 years before. I remember that city particularly because I met this crazy, bald Dutch fella in the city's one Irish pub (I found it) who called himself a bodyguard and he insisted on showing me all the good nightclubs. He even showed up backstage during one of the shows, talked his way in, after I kind of blew him off for being a little psycho. Anyway, I digress.
I entered March concerned but hopeful that this new Covid thing would be another SARS or what have you; but when they cancelled St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC, that's when I knew shit was real. The restaurants went next in my neck of the woods, and then my boys' school closed.
My eldest is on the autism spectrum. I don't know how many of you are familiar with autistic people. They are very diverse and I always avoid generalising, but one thing a lot of autistic people have in common is finding a lot of security and comfort in an established routine. Like so many people, having an established routine unexpectedly thrown out the window can be a huge source of anxiety.
We were just putting one foot in front of the other,
one day at a time, like everyone else
All of my boy's services and schooling and routine disappeared at the snap of a finger, and he didn't fully understand why. It was very hard for him. Some of his behaviour got challenging and even dangerous. Both of my kids had it hard; we took it seriously and put playdates on hold for the foreseeable future. My wife and I are awful at home schooling and getting the kids to stay more than five minutes in front of a laptop was a full time job in itself.
My wife and I kept hearing all the horrible news coming out of NYC from our friends. We had only moved the family out of there a year ago and everyone was scared. Most lost their jobs, all of our actor friends did, every single one, they didn't want to go outside and ambulance sirens all over the five boroughs intensified with each passing day.
Then you'd see (I don't know, I guess I have to call them) 'people' from less-hit areas in the country start saying on social media that they weren't wearing a damn mask and it was all fake and a Democratic hoax, while our friends and friends and relatives of friends started to die.
My diet flew out the window. I started getting out of shape again, and wouldn't go to the gym. We were all overwhelmed, scared and yet extremely bored all at the same time. Only I would go out and get groceries, we talked mostly about what was on the news and what we needed to ration.
But about a month into it I made the sudden realisation that my family weren't bickering as much. My wife and I were driving each other less crazy than normal, despite the fact that we had been living on top of each other with no break for a while. We were doing what we could to make it easier for each other. Then I would see all of my friends and family on Zoom. They were not freaking out like I was feeling inside, but after talking to them for a while we would all realise that everyone felt the same way and we were just putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, like everyone else.
This horrible virus has in some ways been a unifying experience - and when it finally becomes a memory, that unity will remain. Everyone is going through it right now, and while some have it worse than others, almost all of us have a common understanding and empathy that has grown in the last year.
I can't wait for it to be over - but my family is a stronger unit than it has ever been before. It would be foolish to pretend that this whole thing hasn't been overwhelmingly a horrific experience, but there has been a lot of charity, care, bravery and teamwork in all of our communities. The most normal of us have stepped up and become heroes, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope that crazy Dutch fella is alright.
Follow Roger on Twitter at @rclark98. There are various resources that can help provide mental health support, including MIND, Samaritans, Safe In Our World and CALM:
Featured Image Credit: Rockstar Games, Roger Clark on Instagram (@rollingrog)
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