We’ve been self-isolating for a week now.
It already feels like a month.
My son built an obstacle course in the garden yesterday and timed me as I navigated it. It was a terrible obstacle course, mainly because he’s five and five year olds apparently build terrible obstacle courses.
I ran around it anyway, catching a glimpse of his proud, beaming face as he watched me sit in a garden chair for 10 seconds, before sitting in another garden chair for 10 seconds, and then running around the tree 3 times before standing on a bucket on one leg, wobbling and trying to balance myself, until he said I could get down.
The world also feels wobbly right now.
It seems that we’re all navigating our own terrible obstacle course and nobody really knows what’s going to happen or how this will all pan out and we don’t know why we’re being instructed to run around the tree 3 times but we are because what else are we to do?
“What you should do is write something”, my partner told me yesterday.
“I know. I think that too. But I don’t know what to write about”, I replied. “I don’t have any good advice or handy tips or anxiety-cures right now. I’m as uncertain and bewildered and unsure as everyone else.”
“Well write about that then.”
So here I am. Writing.
How’s your head and heart today? Are you uncertain and bewildered and unsure too?
That’s ok. It’s normal. You’re human. You’re not a robot, you know.
You’re allowed to feel what you’re feeling.
And to do what you’re doing.
Even if you’re peering through the window of other people’s lives who are seemingly feeling and doing very differently to you.
My kid peered through the window of my office as I was talking to a dear client the other day. “Erm, is that your little boy?” she said, motioning to the top right hand corner of her computer screen. I swivelled round in my chair to the window behind me, and there he was, crouched down, elbow on knee, fist under his chin, watching us as we talked, like he was watching a television programme. “I’m so sorry! So much for confidentiality, huh?” I said. My client laughed. I did too.
This is our new normal right now. My kid is home, running around the garden and we kind of don’t know what to do with him. “How many more people do you have to talk to in your computer today, Mummy?” he asks me. He’s desperate for me to finish coaching for the day so that we can have a Pokemon battle. I don’t even watch Pokemon. And I don’t know how to battle or what it means. And yet, somehow, I manage to play along. I shout a lot and make pew-pew noises like he does and it seems to be the right thing to do.
And yet I don’t know what the right thing to do is amidst this chaos.
But I keep going.
And as I keep going, I sometimes feel very calm and considered and like a Grown Up Adult. And then other times I feel the hands of The Fear clasped around my neck and I can feel my pulse quickening and it all feels a bit too much. This morning I woke up and texted back and forth with my friends. They were all awake and online, which was weird, because some of them tend to sleep in much later than me normally and they get pissed off with me because I am that very annoying person who texts people at 6:30am. It felt like we were all together somehow. I felt relieved. I told them that I felt kind of excited and curious about the good things that might come from all of this, and yet yesterday I sat with my head in my hands and wondered what the fuck was going on and could not see a single good thing and didn’t even want to look for one.
Feelings and thoughts change.
This is ok.
I know this.
And I hope you do, too, ok?
You don’t have to have anything figured out right now.
It’s ok for you to feel in control one moment, and then the next want to hide under the table while shouting “WHERE ARE ALL THE ADULTS?”
I know some of you are terrified about losing your jobs. Maybe some of you already have.
I know some of you are embracing working from home and spending time with your loved ones and seeing the light and loveliness in it all.
I know some of you are hating working from home and are resenting the time with your loved ones because it’s all just too much and you wish they’d all just piss off and leave you alone.
I know some of you feel that the imposed self-isolation is holding up a mirror for just how much you already feel isolated and alone in the world.
I know some of you are re-connecting with friends you never got round to talking to when life was normal and constant and you were Just. So. Busy. All. Of. The. Time.
I know some of you are feeling a rising sense of community and purpose and meaning.
I know some of you are scrolling through the newsfeed on your phone and feeling like any sense of collective human compassion we once had is now drowning amongst the squabbling and fighting over toilet rolls and hand soap.
I know some of you are looking to the leaders of the world and following The Rules because this is what you feel we should do.
I know some of you are shaking your head at the supposed leaders of the world who don’t seem to be doing their jobs properly and you’re starting to fear anarchy is only just around the corner.
This is ok.
I know I keep saying it’s ok. And I also know that there’s so much that is really, absolutely, totally not ok.
I don’t know what else to say. Do you?
I have no advice.
I haven’t spent the last few days squirrelled away in my office, furiously creating a free 10-Step Plan To Be Positive and Very Calm and Productive during this time.
But I want you to know that I’m here.
So if you want to write to me, you can. I won’t have all the answers. I might not be able to quell your fears. I might not say the right thing.
But there’s a human at the end of your computer right now who also knows what it’s like to be human.
p.s If you do write to me, I might not be able to reply straight away because there’s a strong possibility I’ll be crawling around my garden and pretending to be a Pokemon with my delighted son.
p.p.s If you actually know how to do a Pokemon battle, please tell me. My son will be even more delighted. Thank you.