Connection in a time of isolation

What a strange time. How is everyone? I’ve had some time to think (haha), so I thought I’d write. I started writing this in an attempt to untangle my thoughts and then decided to share it, because why not. I hope this finds you healthy and safe at home with enough of the things that will keep your heart, mind and spirit afloat until things go back to ‘normal’. I have definitely been questioning what ‘normal’ is and whether normal has to be the way normal was: or rather, what do I want my ‘normal’ to be when I get it back? Assuming we do get it back. There are a few things I realise I’m not missing that much. For those of us lucky enough to have a safe place to stay home in, there are some large gifts scattered amongst the confusion of this enforced ‘stopping’.

When it first dawned on me that the ‘stopping’ could stretch on for some unknown number of months or even years my habitual self instantly got busy writing lists, seeking opportunity, thinking of ways to catch up and be maximally productive. It was even quite exciting at first. But then, I found myself sleeping in, moving slower than I thought I had the right to, pottering in the veggie patch, reading a book, slipping into the stillness …. My body is usually much smarter than my brain when it comes to knowing the right way to be in a situation. It has been a personal quest over recent years to learn how to truly allow myself the right to moments of simply be-ing. As a product of my society and era, I’m probably not alone in this. Right now, things have been taken out of our hands. We have no choice but to slow down. This is one of the gifts I’m accepting now. It no doubt won’t last, as our new normal kicks in.


COVID-19 will definitely leave a memorable dash in global historical timelines, even though previous pandemics, civil wars, world wars and other catastrophes have had greater impacts in terms of loss of life (than this virus will hopefully). It is incredible to think that people across the world where possible will be heading inside and staying there for an indeterminate amount of time, regardless of the economic impacts, in a joint attack against our deadly invisible foe. We may all be stuck at home, but we are more closely connected to or fellow humans through this than any other time I can think of since communication technology has allowed it. Though mostly I feel trapped in a communication age I’m not made for, I’m thankful for the technology that gives us the ability to connect, allow resources to be directed to those who need it, and share knowledge from those ahead in the virus timeline, to help lessen the impact by learning from the experiences of others.

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Such near-complete shut-down of social structure as we know it is a dis-orienting experience. Like any situation where control is taken from you realisations of what you actually value tend to stand out in the forefront, like catching your reflection in a window you were looking through. For me, these things include being connected to nature in everyday life, being close to family, friends and collaborators, my health, safety, and the freedom to invest in and create these things for myself. Some of this, I still have. I feel very lucky to be experiencing this pandemic in a country that is able to offer support. There will be some who will suffer large financial setbacks and lose loved ones too early, but it feels at this stage as though (if we all #staythefuckathome, and help the charities who support the vulnerable*) a great deal of people will come through this period and be able to kick their lives off again quite successfully, although probably not in the ‘normal’ way.

One thing I think a lot about, is what this means (if anything, but hopefully something) for our current economic model, that of continued growth. We have built (or ended up with) a system both highly complex and fragile, lacking robustness and resilience as proven by the attack from our invisible viral enemy. The health of which seems to rely on us buying increasing amounts of unnecessary shit. I realise this system has placed our government in a position to financially support us currently, as the wheels fall off the train. But how much will ‘consumption’ need to ramp up over the coming years to regain our footing in this system?

Most of us are still sitting in our houses (thankfully with a freeze on evictions and hopefully on mortgage repayments), we have enough to eat, and apart from not being able to go out to work or to catch up with our mates, things seem strangely OK* even though a vast majority of people are not spinning the hamster wheel of work and wages and debt repayments. The financial assistance packages we are offered from the government will cost many years to ‘recover’ from. But is it recovery we need – or redesign?

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I just can’t help but hope there is some catalyst for fundamental change hidden in this. I don’t know what it is, but perhaps this mass stepping off-of-the-hamster-wheel will reveal global economic systems and other seemingly imaginary structures we have sewn the fragile fabric of our day to day lives around, for the somewhat phantasmic masters they have become. Maybe we can sit and watch the dance play out, under the spotlight of the natural world taking a breath in, and then out, reclaiming some of her lost territories, and offering them back to us to protect and enjoy in a more sensible way for all.

It feels a bit like we are all naughty kids who have been grounded.  Sent to our rooms for not listening to our mother (to our heart of hearts), for recklessly flaunting the rules (the rules of natural balance and cycles). Feels like even though we knew in some subterranean corner of ourselves our system of continued ‘growth’ (by which we really mean consumption at an increasing rate) couldn’t really stand up in any sustainable way, we’d try our luck anyway – see how much we could get away with before Mum found out. Like a teenager who tests the boundaries of the rules in spite of knowing the consequences – ‘yeah, but it won’t happen to me’ … we all remember feeling somewhat immortal in the spring of our life? But then we grow out of it. It seems the ruling-powers of our current civilised world are still like that hormone-drunk teenager, and we are caught up in the mesh. It feels like we have been pushing the boundaries too long, taking more than we need; catching planes like they are buses, taking foods from the convenience of our supermarkets flown in from every corner of the globe (disconnected from the origins of the food that sustains us), minds increasingly scattered by incessant requests and seductions from social media, seeking increased ‘productivity’, addicted to a sensation of busy-ness (busy with what exactly?)…

We have been willingly seduced by the fantasy of continued growth. But I don’t think we ever really believed we could overcome the natural way of things. We know at a cellular level that attrition follows growth. The logic is very clear, it is animal instinct. Nature cycles: it ebbs and flows, encroaches and retreats, pushes and yields (yin/yang), – smaller cycles within greater cycles, an ever-changing symphony of transition from apex to nadir. That is the only way this indescribably complex system we depend on for our survival manifests some beautiful, plentiful, dynamic, stability. There are already so many signs of the attrition that is edging out from the sidelines for us.

I am not an anarchist. I believe collectively we have the intelligence and capacity to create a sustainable future. Perhaps this ‘stopping’ can allow us to see the reflection in the window; that slowing down isn’t bad, and maybe even correct. Perhaps a system that incorporates smaller, more natural cycles of growth and attrition wouldn’t suffer the devastating low we seem to be about to descend to?

We’ll wait and see I guess. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your isolation-buddies, stay in touch and stay at home.

Love, J.x.

* There are many vulnerable who need our help. Here are a couple of links if you are in a position to help out:


Domestic violence

Support Act