I woke up this morning to the disturbing stillness outside my window. Not the usual sounds of people readying themselves for the day. A stillness that is difficult to be within because we don’t know what it holds for us. I tried to take some solace in the distant crash of waves, the sound of birds in the trees, but they only reminded me that I am just a biological organism, vulnerable to the elements. Although I had a busy day ahead of me, I could not shake the feeling that my real task is just to survive.
We are, however, more than just ordinary organisms, we are meaning making organisms and it is from within this stillness that we are likely to start to reflect on this experience: what it means to be alive in our times. We will start to contemplate our own potential insignificance and we will, hopefully, start to seek out some sort of renewed purpose going forward. We will also have to come to terms with our deeply ingrained habits of thought and behaviour. It is unlikely that the things that have worried us in the past will become suddenly irrelevant. It is more likely that they will appear more relevant than ever. You might become aware of the role of alcohol in your life, some of the food you sometimes comfort yourself with, or the need to get up every day and feel like you are “doing something”. The task ahead of most of us is to consciously do “nothing”. We are most likely going to seek out ways of distracting ourselves from this task. Although your anxieties might seem trivial in contrast to others facing starvation, this won’t prevent you from feeling like you are peering into the things that usually make you fearful with a great big magnifying glass. The stillness might also make known to us the things we both most value and struggle with. Especially those aspects of our relationships. As we all try to avoid a virus “out there”, the stillness will reveal to us the things we have being trying to escape “in here”.
Humans have an inherent need to feel connected to somebody and something. That need is so overwhelming, we might even risk infection to have it because the absence of that connection can be our ultimate form of isolation. This is most likely going to be a time when we cherish the genuine connections that we do have. I think the worst outcome is for any of us is to feel isolated within our isolation. For those of us with the privilege of isolating with others, we need to be sure that our own anxieties do not create barriers between us. The enemy is not each other. There is no enemy. This is really about making sense of our biological survival. Together.