, 03.11.2021 01:11 AM

The lost year

One year ago tonight, I was sitting on a couch at my house in Toronto, emailing back and forth with my staff at Daisy Group. And then it slipped onto the screen of my device, and – boom. That was that.

It wasn’t a complete surprise. For weeks, I had been using the coronavirus as a case study in my crisis communications class at the University of Calgary’s law school. And Daisy Group is a crisis communications firm, so my staff and I had been carefully watching what was happening in China.

I had even been purchasing hand sanitizer and masks for my colleagues and their families. (I’ve always been a bit of a prepper.)

I blinked. There it was, on the bluish little screen: Tom Hanks had the virus. So did some NBA players, and the season was cancelled. And – just like that – the world tilted on its axis. Things abruptly got a bit less clear. A bit less safe.

I told my staff we would be closing up the office for a while. Little did I know that we would be closing it up for good. We had beautiful offices on Bloor Street West, and we’d been there for 15 great years. But it became impossible for us to use them – we’re not an essential service. So we moved our business into the virtual space, where it has remained.

I, meanwhile, moved to my farmhouse in Prince Edward County with my two dogs, and started a new life. I haven’t looked back, really.

At first, I wanted to bring everyone here, because it felt like the world might actually be ending, and because I wanted to protect them. My daughter came for a few weeks, at the start, and then she felt it was safe to return to Ottawa and work. So she did.

I had rituals. Every single day, I’d talk to my four kids, who lived in four different cities. My Mom, too, twice a day. I reached out to old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years. I contacted exes, to check on them. I’d been dating, and – while face-to-face get-togethers had suddenly become inadvisable – I would call and text them to talk. To make sure they were okay.

I started taking long, long bike hikes. I’d lift weights. I’d swim in the lake every night with Joey (and when it was warm enough).

I taught myself to cook things, started eating better. I wrote songs and recorded them. I podcasted. I wrote (bad) poetry. I re-created a comic strip about a talking rat. I got more ink. I started painting again, which felt good, because one ex – the jealous one – actively discouraged my attempts at art. And I started writing for the paper again, because it finally felt like the right time to do so.

I don’t talk a lot about how I’m doing, now, because so many people have lost so much. In Canada, thousands and thousands dead. In America, half a million people, lost. Jobs gone, businesses gone, lives shattered. Someone I fell for got Covid, then long Covid. She’s still sick, too.

But – and this is going to sound weird – I am actually kind of grateful to the pandemic. It forced me to stop, and think, and change. It has changed me for the better, I think. It has made me more grateful, and more happy.

So, at the end of one year of this, can I really say it was a lost year? Was it that?

For many, yes, of course. It was a lost year. But for me, it wasn’t that at all.

It was year one.


  1. dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack says:

    stages of a pandemic:


  2. Rene Maillet says:

    neuroplasticity and a positive attitude are wonderful bases for resiliency skill.

  3. Pipes says:

    Worse than the pandemic, I summer drive through PECounty all the time to my cottage and never got an invite to visit you. On the other hand, I never invited you to my cottage. I need to work on that………………

    You’re the best!

  4. Peter Williams says:

    You can let something happen to you, or you can say OK what am I going to do now?

    Me, I lost 60 pounds during the pandemic.

    I played 190 rounds of golf.

    And to top it off, after 50 years of playing golf, I finally got a hole in one. And got another a week later!

    Ended the year with my third ace, on my birthday! The next day I went out and shot the best golf round of my life, a 78!

    So in those ways it was a good year.

    But of five brothers only one is working. I’m supporting two on my pension and savings. They are both looking for work, and picking up the occasional contract piece. Both are actively improving their skill sets. They also say you can let things happen to you or you can say OK what am I going to do now? Something our dad taught us.

    • dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack says:

      …agree w. Peter Williams… The lockdown in particular was full of weird opportunities. I was probably running a marathon about once a week. Best shape I’ve been in since my teens. Also got to know my neighbors a lot better and the parks / walking paths / neighborhoods of my home town.

      Holy crap I saved a lot of money with live sports / restaurants being shut down and no chance to travel.

      I have a sibling whose career has taken off spectacularly *because* of COVID.

      My buddy’s wife owns a renovation business…. They don”t have time to blink they are so busy these days.

      Sometimes its just the right place, right time, right skill set that makes all the difference.

  5. How could it be otherwise? After all, upstairs you’ve got your Dad, Douglas Kinsella, pulling for all of his loved ones. Can’t ask for more than that and God listened.

  6. Robert White says:

    I had a great year since this thingy manifested. Got new cheap tires at half price on the WalMart deal of the century closeout of their automotive repair departments, and fixed my breaks on my ancient 1996 Chev too. Sold my last Slingerland Radio King for $1100.00, and my last guitar amp too which replenished hobby coffers for a bit extra time.

    Of late my basement didn’t flood this spring and I’ve been learning how to repair old tube radios from the Art Deco era 30s which is pretty interesting stuff if one can get over how antiquated electronics was back in the 30s. The best part of it was figuring out the Amelia Earhart disappearance in 1937 and how she got lost due to failed communications with her newest Westinghouse superheterodyne 3-band tube radio.

    Watch Operation Amelia 2019 documentary with Dr. Robert Ballard joining in on the search. I think they finally solved the disappearance.

    As I age out I’m finding new hobbies are the most entertaining thing to get into compared to my usual news junkie habit which has become morose with Covid dominating the news cycles endlessly IMHO.

    Sounds like you had an excellent year too, Warren.

    Good stuff.

    Learning to cook is easy if you pay attention to the task. If you are going to attempt Chili make sure you get quality chili powder and not the bargain basement stuff.


  7. I for one am glad you were able to persevere through the adversity Warren. Being alone can be tough, and I’m glad you were able to stay in touch with loved ones. My main concern was my mom, who is in long term care. Thank God she was safe and has now been vaccinated. My heartfelt condolences go out to those who weren’t so fortunate. I was able to focus a little more on my music and set some personal goals with respect to my facility on the instruments I play. I also wrote some, and tried to not drive “the wife” to distraction by being constantly underfoot. I also subscribed to some great YouTube channels and have found some very interesting characters who have also been forced to radically change their lifestyles as well due to the pandemic. Cheers and best wishes to you Warren and everyone else who is part of this little corner of the world. Let’s keep our chins up, as better times don’t seem that far away.

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Those, who by some strange coincidence, are still HappyTrudeauCampersTM, need to watch this from The Money GPS:


    (Hint: most of you, especially Liberals, won’t like the last part.)

  9. david says:

    It was your turn to chase the monsters away.

    That’s what keeping in touch with those you love/loved means.

    There is a song for that.

    It’s called “Monsters.”
    by James Blunt.

    He was losing his dad over kidney failure. His didn’t match.

    I believe as do many others that it is the most emotional and powerful song ever recorded by a “pop” star.

    If you haven’t heard it I think I know who it will remind you of.

    We should never wait to tell those we love that we do.


  10. PhilinLondon says:

    I am glad for your sentiment of being grateful for what you’ve been able to do. I think the greatest failure of crisis is what people DON’T change. 9-11 seems so trivial today but think back, how many people were going to change their lives – how many actually did were few.
    I’m grateful for the best year of my career, I hope when we all get to the “new normal” that it actually is new.

    I’m seeing too many grossly wasteful and selfish actions, Eg CERB sows at the trough, people taking and not thinking of others and just generally being pricks. But I’m also seeing many rise to the occasion. Charitable acts of kindness and general human decency.

    I think many will find different values to friendships etc

    I’m also grateful that I had two great medical outcomes in my household that showed the medical community’s prowess in a Covid era where great non-Covid care was not sacrificed.

    It’s been one hell of a year, I am looking forward to our evolution coming through the darkest days to the light at the end.

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