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Advice from an Afghanistan veteran accustomed to “lockdowns”


Over the next three weeks, the gala is on, and you are likely to share a very limited space with people you have always thought you could get along very well. After five years in Afghanistan, and countless “hard lockdowns” that sometimes lasted up to a month, I’d like to share a few thoughts from my own experience.

1. It’s hard. No, it’s pretty difficult! Especially here, after day 10, when the newness and the weirdness of it start to disappear. You are going to need to refine your self-discipline and keep it sharp.
2. Quickly develop a comfortable routine where you balance a healthy balance between your own time and time with the rest of the household.
3. Don’t be a pain in the hole for others and order them all the time. Nerves quickly become thin.
4. You will learn things from the people around you, notice and discover what has always escaped you. Most of it is not going to make you giggle. Deal with it, and bite your tongue. They also suddenly realise that you are not as perfect as you believe.
5. Keep a close eye on the people around you. The black dog has a bad habit of moving in these times. And if it’s not him, it’s that fox calling them intolerant. Keep both away from your door.
6. When you are allowed to travel / move, avoid anything in uniform as far as possible. Nothing puts the average soldier / cop on a power trip like circumstances like this.
7. Stay busy, even if you’re just resting. This ensures that your head does not get hot with all sorts of worries and stress. Things are what they are – the consolation is that bitterness from us will NOT come through. Make your relationships stronger and better after this. It will be a bummer if your first stop after lockdown is the divorce lawyer or malthouse.
8. Stay positive. This too shall pass. It always does. This is not war. Exploit your creativity. Make new plans for the future. Dream big and prepare yourself to kick ass when the doors open again.
9. Keep a generous supply of popcorn. You’re going to need it when you watch the guys who don’t follow this advice self-destruct. Avoid snowflakes – those things are going to drive you crazy with their entitlement and claims.
10. You have a lot of time on hand. Talk to your Creator once, and get to know Him again. Years from now you will look back and realize how valuable these three weeks really were.

And then, the eleventh commandment. Be safe, but have fun.