The halting decrescendo of the urban symphony pulsating through the city’s streets abruptly faded into a deafening silence following the confinement order. The bustling whir that once animated my day-to-day has temporarily given way to an achingly muted solitude. As we all retreated to our respective nests, the quiet stillness reverberated throughout the confines of my home. I tried to drown out the hushed air with music and the sounds from my own routine movements, but eventually the murmur of my own voice eclipsed all else. When my aloneness became increasingly acute, that voice gave life to my most inner thoughts. And it is within this cloud of thoughts where I seek refuge and companionship during this period of physical severance from humanity.
This intense moment of deceleration and departure from normalcy has given my mind and body a chance to recover from the rigors of living and working in a fast-paced urban jungle. Time was always in short supply as I raced through life prior to the pandemic, but many of us have now been gifted with an abundance of it. Not wanting to squander the unanticipated hours that I’ve gained, I fill my days with work, exercise, reading and creating. Letting my thoughts wander freely while writing and making photos has helped allay my sense of despondency arising from the uncertainties of this situation and have been the balm buffering me against ennui.
Spending what feels like an eternity alone day in and day out gives me the space to reset, renew and become reacquainted with myself. With the subdued tempo of my days, I now have the luxury of pausing to breathe, to remind myself to stay rooted in the present moment, to soak in the eerily desolate silence beyond my windows, and to witness nature reclaim her space without us. But, the marked absence of buzzing chatter and laughter weighs heavily on me, etching a longing emptiness in my heart. It is this yearning that has brought into razor sharp focus what I cherish and need most in my life, whether they be minute or consequential.
Initially, I struggled with translating what I’ve been feeling into words. With time however, observing how my emotions oscillate from one end of the spectrum to the other in response to the world falling into tatters beyond the safety of the four walls around me has prompted me to introspect more deeply. Doing so has heightened my self-awareness and patience, which have helped me to shore up the mental stamina vital for enduring and overcoming this global crisis.
Though I’ve remained steady of mind for the better part of this confinement, there have been moments where the loneliness has felt insurmountable and could only be soothed by a warm embrace. Forcibly sequestering ourselves underlines our inexorable need to be connected to our loved ones and our social entourage. Like the rest of the planet, I’ve relied heavily on virtual communications to stay in contact with my family and friends and plugged into the outside world. Yet, I find digital chats to be inadequate and hollow, especially during this period of duress. That is not to say that the conversations that I’ve been having are superficial and unfulfilling. Quite the contrary actually. The problem is that my virtual conversations always leave me craving more. I need more than ever to have a real live person in front of me, to feel their energy, to see their body language react to my own, and to hear their voice and laughter before me. At times, it anguishes me that the physical presence of the person to whom I’m speaking is missing because I find myself once again alone when the conversations come to an end.
While we weather this storm and sit in waiting, I try to imagine what life post pandemic will look like. I reflect on where I am today and where I would like to reinsert myself in this world once the government eases curbs on our freedom of movement. Although my optimism tends to be tempered by my awareness of reality’s harsh truths, I’m hopeful that humanity will reemerge transformed for the better from this shared experience. Undoubtedly, this viral scourge will leave an indelible scar on our collective psyche. Nonetheless, we will once again venture from our homes, albeit tepidly, as the uncertainty of this impasse begins to dissipate. My hope is that this cataclysm will unravel glaringly cruel inequalities and has awakened in all of us a desire to reshape our society into a more harmonious one. In the meantime, I’m waiting with bated breath for the moment when I can rediscover joy with others, freely experience unwritten adventures and serendipitous encounters!
Thanks for reading & stay safe,