Life in isolation

 

Life in isolation, Lyall Bay beach April 2020

This picture was taken the other day at the beach, while on our daily walk. We're so lucky to have the beach nearby, and if this isolation situation teaches us anything, it’s what is important to us. Being near and able to access the sea has been so key for my sanity.

I hear a lot of social chatter at the moment; people struggling, people creating awesome things, people breaking down, people performing heroic acts, people organising the hell out of life, people believing conspiracy theories. It seems the full range of experience is happening to people right now.

I'd say that is true for me too. Over the last few weeks it has been possible for me to have days where I feel like life isn't so different to normal, and others where I feel like I'm breaking and falling into a sink hole of despair and emotion. I've felt like the best parent, and the worst. The most loving wife and the least. Severe distress and extreme elation. Fierce drive and complete inertia. Intense vulnerability and incredible strength.

I’ve also been surprised. I’m used to having a lot of time to myself, as I work alone at home. In grittier times of the month, I fancy myself a badass loner; in need of no-one, able to satisfy and meet all my own needs and to hell with everyone else. I fantasise about life in a small woodland cottage somewhere, alone with perhaps just a pet for company. But this experience has shown me differently. I’m surprised just how comforting I am finding my bubble. I thought it would drive me nuts, having everyone here all the time, and at times, it is. But it’s also cozy, and warm, and comforting knowing everyone is safe and nearby. 

I’m also surprised how much I miss people. As a “sociable loner” (thanks Peta Mathias for that insightful categorisation), I sometimes underestimate how much pleasure I derive from interactions with others. I’m often lying on the sofa at 7pm on the night of a party groaning about having to go, regretful I can’t just curl up with a cup of tea and a good movie. But I now realise that, though my party hard instincts may be on the wane, the need for meaningful interaction with people isn’t. 

The lockdown has shown us that we are still a social species, even if technology has forced us apart in some ways. We still need each other, not just for practical reasons, but also for our mental health. There is an integral part of being human, and that is connection. When we can’t have it, we suffer. 

I’m plagued with a sense of incompletion. I’m still able to work to some degree, and fulfil orders. But my husband and I now share a workspace, and as my job can be noisy and sometimes smelly, it’s difficult to always do what I normally would in there. His job requires concentration so I feel guilty if I'm rattling around, and anyway, someone needs to keep an eye on the smallest person in this house. My wholesale orders have completely dried up of course so I’m not super busy anyway, at least in the practical sense. But that feeling of not doing enough remains. 

I thank, from the bottom of my heart, those who have gone out into the world to perform essential services. I cannot imagine what it must be like for some who have to step into the world each day knowing that people depend on them to save lives, at the risk of jeopardising their own families. Worse, being separated from them. I salute you. I also feel the pain of families unable to comfort their loved ones at the end. That must sting something awful. 

I'm so so grateful for the superb leadership we have experienced in this country, and that we live in a country where our leaders actually care about the welfare of its people. At times I have glimpsed an alternate reality where food is scarce and the world order is thrown on its head. This terrifies me, yet it’s a reality of life for many in different parts of the world. So for this peaceful, uncorrupted country, I am thankful. 

I’m grateful that in my bubble we are healthy, mostly happy, well fed, warm and safe. We still have jobs, and our health. I am so, so very grateful for this. I’m grateful for the support of you all. I hope that you are all surviving, coping, staying safe and staying home. 

#lockdown2020 #alertlevel4 #uniteagainstcovid19 #ohgoodnessnz #ohgoodnessthatsbetter