Still Life #15: Shared Experience

Online consults are not new to me. 7 years ago I moved my practice to Durban and many of my Johannesburg clients have stayed in contact in this way. But there’s something different about these consultations at the moment. Usually there is a level of removal between your client’s experience and your own. Suddenly, there’s a sense of a more deeply shared experience.

My anxieties are their anxieties. And yet, it’s remarkable how, at the same time, our idiosyncratic struggles are more relevant than ever. Problematic relationships with food or alcohol are suddenly more apparent than ever. Frustrations in a marriage won’t go unheard by the second week. Or, our usual anxieties seem to have suddenly taken up all the room in our heads or our beds.

I find myself wondering how doctors feel – treating something that they are equally at risk of contracting. I wonder what they do with that vulnerability. Does a hazmat help? Despite all the room we are privileged enough to have, I’ve been camping out on our bedroom balcony. My own hazmat hut, out from which I peer into people’s living realities through a screen.

When I’m not talking, I’m reading, obsessively. Trying to forge some sort of safety out of epidemiological predictions. “Modelling” is what they call it – using science to make guesses.

But I’m not taking my own advice. I’m not embracing what it means to be alive, in this moment. I’m trading the here and now for an imagined future.

I’ve promised not to read anything this weekend. Cold turkey!

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