Living each day much muchier
There are lots of types of alone in the world.
There’s the alone you enjoy when you close the door on what’s been hounding you. When you drop what you’re carrying and take off what’s been itching, you are finally, wonderfully alone.
There’s an alone you share with the sunset or music. A melancholy steals over you, and even though you’re solitary between your ears and behind your eyes, somehow, beautiful things find their way inside to colour and hold you.
There’s the alone of sitting in a crowded bar or busy street, where you skate the surface of other people’s social bubbles. People-watching is fascinating, by yourself while surrounded.
These are the nice kinds of alone, meaningful and fulfilling.
Then there’s this alone. This alienation that built up incrementally, day by day, through lockdown and restriction. It’s an empty alone, storyless and touch-hungry. It’s a strange alone. It doesn’t go away with catch-ups or events. It took root deep inside and now tiny tubers, pockets of nothing, are stored like hollows in my heart. I can feel them there. No hug quite touches them. I don’t know how to dig them out.
For many people, lockdown was too much. Too much kids, partners, work, screen time, doomscrolling, fear, and definitely too much wine. Melburnians are tired. When is it okay to relax? When will it feel okay again?
For others, lockdown was a starvation. We went without physical touch or face-to-face conversations for months at a time. We spent our days in exile, hungry for other humans.
Australia is open now to international tourists. Masks are off. We can go back to the office. We can catch up for drinks. So it’s fine. We’re fine, right?
I’m not so sure. It’s got a real strong fake it till you make it vibe, like we’re acting the part and waiting for it to feel true. I don’t know who else has these buried hollows or pockets of stress, but I doubt I’m the only one.
Funnily enough, COVID-19 iso in my apartment has been the least lonely time. There are so many lovely people sending supportive check-in messages and offers of help. I’m bugged by the government twice a day with a symptoms survey in case I need intervention. I am not as alone as I thought.
It took a long time to grow these hollows. What if it takes that same amount of time to squeeze them flat and truly feel fine? All I know is that we can’t just move on from the deficit like it’s no big deal. We need active, conscious, soul-nourishing attention to moments of joy, connection and momentum.
With enough time and the contrast of many moments together, I hope those other alones will feel wonderful again.