You don’t have to ask the introverted, homebody-type people among us to “self- isolate” twice. We’ve got this. I was practicing “social distancing” way before a global pandemic inserted it into the language and behaviour of daily life.
There is some irony, and some humour, to my personal story at this moment in time. For most of my life, especially the last 20 years, I have lived in a self-imposed social isolation. Initially, I romanticized the idea of living alone in a beautiful setting of west coast wilderness. Solitude among the tall trees and ocean waves seemed so attractive. However, that romance was replaced with psychological dysfunction as the seasons went by. Prolonged social distancing is a pattern which becomes desperately imbalanced in mind and spirit. That was one of the “take-aways” from my experience.
With a lot of help, I was eventually pried away from my personal wilderness and gradually involved myself in the social world.
Now, we are told self isolation is a behaviour we must abide by. Personal and public health is completely dependent on keeping a social distance from one another. The federal government likely will make social isolating a law punishable if ignored.
Life doesn’t come with a promise of making sense, at least on a surface level. Sometimes, you just have to laugh and shrug your shoulders.
Levity aside, suddenly, these are serious and strange days which feel like the whole world has been turned upside down.
Young, old, or in-between, as a society, we have never experienced this type of uncertainty, fear and strangeness. Our comforting social and normal life before the pandemic isn’t allowed right now.
It’s our social responsibility to reject our social instincts and live in physical separation.
Is there even a slither of a “silver lining” we can glean from the altered behaviour which this global pandemic has imposed on us?
With the rapid spread of Covid-19, we’re acutely aware of the global nature of life. Conversely, we also realize how small of a community we live in and, by being separated, how interdependent we are. There is evidence all around us, from the reassuring hearts children carefully place in windows to a new kindness felt while keeping a safe social distance around town.
There is a spirit of community and togetherness in the air as we pull together, while apart, to stop this health emergency.
The famous Joni Mitchell song with the lyrics, “…Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone...” seems to ring particularly true when we have something suddenly taken away.
We have had the reassuring normalcy of daily life taken from us by this global pandemic. When this virus is contained with a vaccine, and it will be, I think the lesson we will keep with us is how precious every moment of that “normal” life is. How beautifully reassuring and deeply comforting simply time spent together is.
When something as simple, but essential, as holding hands is not allowed, we then authentically feel the true connection and closeness such a simple act provides.
That new awareness could be a slither of a silver lining.
Robert Skender is a Powell River freelance writer and health commentator.