I’ve just wrapped another week in government-imposed isolation.
On some level, isolation suits me.
A part-time agoraphobe.
A full-time lover of vacuuming, and rearranging cupboards. Over thinking.
Social distancing is an irredeemable part of my genetic blueprint.
The solitude has also outed my frailties.
The person I was 4 weeks ago only understood ‘pandemic’ as a thing that happened in sci-fi movies.
I was humiliatingly slow to grasp the magnitude.
The tectonic shift occurring to our way of life.
While I was running around picking up dry cleaning; worrying about a chipped manicure; buying fancy dog food; people were already heaving under the weight of an emerging, collective trauma.
4 weeks home-bound has taught me a few things.
My isolation manifesto.
- I Can
I can’t go to the beach
I can’t visit my friends
I can’t go to the pub
I can read a book
I can call a friend
I can bake a cake
I can do the job that I love from the comfort of my dining room.
I can breathe unassisted by a ventilator.
My nearest and dearest are but a phone call away.
Not all are so fortunate.
When tempted to complain, I think about:
Those who were ravaged by bushfires. Then covid.
Those undergoing chemotherapy. Then covid.
Those living with domestic violence. Then covid.
My narrative has shifted to “I’m so lucky I can” from “it sucks that I can’t”.
Learning gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness.
- The best medicine
Ironically, I’ve never felt more connected to my friends. My family. My partner. My colleagues.
Video chats and phone conversations are the nucleus of my new routine.
My technophobia is subsiding.
I’ve learnt new skills.
I’ve learnt dough can rise when put in the clothes dryer.
After years of thrashing my mind and body, I’ve learnt to meditate. Sometimes with wine.
I’ve learnt that Carole Baskin almost certainly fed her husband to the tigers.
I’ve learnt my friends have the best (most debaucherous) sense of humour.
And no, they’re not making light of the severity.
But they’re providing light in a time of darkness.
A precarious fault line separates depression and elation, and they are proving my best therapy.
Learning joy is a powerful catalyst for happiness.
- I need to do better
Isolation has made me realise I can be better.
And to others.
Life is simpler.
Instead of sitting in traffic; tangling myself with the five places I need to be at once; wasting money and effort on the superficial; I’m savouring the sunshine. The peace. The introspection.
I’ve gotten to know my neighbours.
I’m being a better granddaughter.
I’ve seen some inspiring acts of generosity.
I’ve witnessed the hoarding of supplies.
The flouting of social distancing rules.
To those who do, I can’t help but wonder if it were your grandmother. Your father. Your partner.
Would you still be roistering in coronavirus machismo?
Learning kindness is a powerful catalyst for happiness.
So, where to from here?
I suppose when covid “ends” (whatever that means), we gradually return to normal.
But a new normal.
And when we write the manifesto of that new normal, I hope we choose the language of