In These Isolation Days, We Hide, We Fear
I’ve lost count of these isolation days, these days where we hide from each other, made afraid by an unseen pandemic. Like too many unseen illnesses, it’s relentless and unforgiving and non-discriminatory. So we hide.
We gave this “hiding” a most uncomplimentary term – social-distancing – a term whose banality hides the danger lurking within it. The truth is, we are social creatures and social distancing, isolating, can be deadly to us. Perhaps too late, some learned this truth. Now a new term – physical distancing – is being preferred. It’s a more accurate description of the safety we need, but the damage has likely been done.
I’m an expert at isolating. I’ve done it my entire life. It’s been my “go-to” response to stress for forever. And I know firsthand just how deadly prolonged isolation can be, In my case, it took me to the brink of death.
Alone in the Crowd
So I learned new ways. I learned how to better be alone in the midst of society. That social noise, exhausting though it may be to me, is a necessary part of living. It tells me in the most concrete way that I’m not alone. And now it’s denied me.
The Virtual Substitute
I’m left with the virtual. Texting, and messaging, and video-conferencing. Tools that don’t really replicate the society we inhabit. They’re not the same. They’re what we have. So I engage. I talk with friends. I reach out, I listen and I participate. Video-conferencing is best, for it conveys nuance and compassion and empathy and understanding. It also conveys amusement or sadness things that can get lost in a text.
Walking helps. Tremendously. But I’m afraid. I live in an apartment building and I worry about the pathogens my neighbours may bring in. My walking becomes limited. Shopping helps, but the same fear exists magnified as I scan for those things I need. Is the virus lying on the objects in front of me? Need overcomes fear. And by choice, these “exposures” are kept to the barest minimum. I don’t want to be out any longer than is absolutely necessary to accomplish my task.
A Pandemic of Fear
In the end, perhaps more insidious than the virus, Covid-19 brought us a pandemic of fear. And I feel this fear, wear it, like a physical presence. My body is tense, my thoughts suspicious. The only refuge, the physical isolation that nearly destroyed me. The saving grace, the virtual world that isn’t quite enough but is needed to preserve social norms.
Lockdown is Returning
The worst of it, lockdown, is returning. Necessary, they say, But how necessary can it be if it happens 5 days in the future? How necessary can it be when shopping is allowed to continue, when Christmas gatherings will likely take place because of it? Necessity has given way to expedience yet again.
This is the world I inhabit today. This is the world of these isolation days.
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay