Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Saturday, June 27, 2020

staying at home - random notes in times of existential threat (part 2)

I was chatting with one of my London based friends on Skype last night talking about a particular cognitive bias hardwired into us that helps us to deal with intense emotional experiences. The result of it is we tend to shape our memory of events past with a certain selectiveness that allow that emotion (and details of the experience) to fade. Therapeutic forgetting. It is a thing.

We also talked about my father’s favorite mantra “plus ça change plus c’ést la même chose”, which translated means “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. It is another way of saying those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. You’ve probably guessed by now that historical record is something in which I place great value, even if the words I write today will produce something that generations to come will interpret in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. (Assuming what I write is even read.) Nonetheless, it is worth sharing my experiences with the hope there will be enough budding historians in the future wanting to learn about and learn from the past. 

Now four months into what is likely to become a “staying at home” year, the  pandemic has been the sort of event that could give even the most resilient among us stress eczema. My first Facebook post at the start of the year was “2020 is going to be awesome!” - yeah, right… looking back now, the irony of that hopeful statement seems almost lost in time.

The Australian National Archive has partnered with Australia Post to encourage the writing and gathering of letters written and artwork by Australians sharing their experiences in these times. I wrote about my experiences over the last few months (and posted my letter) because of that belief that we can only learn from each other if we share our insights. In conversations now and for those budding historians looking back and reading our words.

Continuing from my last post, thought I would share some more random notes on existing in these pandemic times. 

Unlike my colleagues also working from home, I have not yet reached a point of lethargy that seems to be growing in prevalence among them. With the adrenalin of the first couple of months of anxiety subsiding, we still all wondered whether we would end up like some other countries unable to control a first wave, or even second wave (yet to hit). We also realized we were shifting to a space where home was work and there was no escape. 

As I've always had a home office space with my second vocation of speculative fiction writing, I haven't felt this lethargy as much and have long-established routines to distinguish between the days when I'm doing the day job and the days when I am following my writing passion. This might seem odd but it is little things like consuming different types of yoghurt to distinguish what day of the week it is that help to distract from existential dread!  I know, the weird habits of a borderline OCD-person, but it should not be surprising how reassuring basic routines and habits can be. (Grooming habits aside, these seem to have slipped a fraction into the 'optional extras' list, with the absence of people to notice.)

I do wonder at what point I might start going stir-crazy without face-to-face contact and a proper hug - my best-guesstimate is at the six-month point of social isolation (end of winter here in the southern hemisphere).

I have been thinking a bit about the habits that have made this time a little easier. To balance the doomscrolling, I have been sharing random 'light' material with friends, family and colleagues. Things that make me laugh:

Photos from nature that remind me of the beauty in the world (from others, and my own, taken on the near daily walks):

Photos of my feline overlord (also known as Sterling) at his demanding best:

And the 'dad jokes' shared between siblings has gotten a little out of hand:

Don't get me wrong, I'm still anxious. There is some seriously scary stuff happening around the world and my own town is not without new challenges populating my news feed on a daily basis. I should not get used to this as a new normal as a matter of principle. 


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