As an introvert, entering this lockdown was not something I was worried about. Chilling in the house with my boyfriend, tortoise and cat sounded kind of idyllic, and it’s hard for my social anxiety to be triggered when I’m not being social! Yet the lack of choice in the matter has affected me more than I thought. It is one thing to choose to live a hermit life for weeks on end, it’s another thing to have it forced on you by circumstances out of your control.
So for these last three weeks (I’ve been isolating for nearly a month with symptoms) the brightest sparks in the darkness have been moments of connection with other human beings. The group calls with my friends where we can barely work out who’s talking, the family skype calls with my niece screaming ‘BEABEA’ on repeat and the local community coming together to clap for our NHS.
No one would ever accuse me of being a positive person, and I am generally of the view that human beings are a scourge that is slowly destroying our planet. However this pandemic has made me appreciate just how beautiful and unique we are. Of course there has been a lot of bad that has come out of this situation, both in terms of loved ones lost and of the things people do when they think they can get away with it. But the sheer volume of kind, selfless and simply human gestures I see on a daily basis is warming my cold dark nihilistic heart.
On Thursday we were watching a movie when we heard this strange noise coming from outside. We went into the garden and heard an entire neighbourhood alive with clapping, crashing of pots and pans and cheering. With the days blurring into one, the 8 o’clock clap had so far passed us by, but we joined in with great gusto. Then I heard the familiar lilt of a brass instrument float towards me through the air, so I wiped the dust off my own trumpet and played back! There then ensued these beautiful 5 minutes of connection, laughter and a lot of questionable ‘music’ that made me feel more connected to my community than I ever have done before. And not once did I even see them! All this connection, this happiness, this laughter just came floating through the air and far from being isolated I felt a part of something bigger
Being forcibly isolated makes you appreciate those moments of connection so much more, and the way communities have rallied together through mutual aid groups has highlighted this perfectly. The other day we cycled over to pick up sourdough starter bread from a neighbour we’d never met, in an area we’d never been too and talked to each other through the letterbox. The ways we have found to stay in touch are bizarre, humorous and often woefully ineffective, as you’ll find out when you try to have a group zoom call with eight others….but they are exactly what we need right now.
Through it all you will laugh, smile and appreciate just how god damn amazing the genuine human spirit of kindness can be. So thank you fellow people, for helping restore my faith in humanity just a little. You may make an optimist of me yet!