Wake up, stretch, set the kettle on, brush your teeth, pour the coffee into a cup, switch on the laptop, brace yourself for a frantic work day ahead, eat two meals or less, watch episodes after episodes tirelessly, switch off and sleep (if your mind and body allows to). Repeat.
This routine might be different for you, if you aren’t a solo quarantine warrior. If you don’t live by yourself. If you don’t end your day without ‘theoretically’ speaking a word out loud. Except into your phones and cameras for voice and video calls.
Well, this is the life of every single person living alone when the globe is fighting a pandemic, which we haven’t seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu that wiped out a population and changed the course of the 20th Century. A section from the History of Pandemics wonderfully written for BBC Future, states how epidemics were the beginning of mass killings on earth. And how wars are merely nothing.
While I thought I was among a small number of people who lived alone in this difficult time, I decided to look up if it was true, well the reality shocked me. And ended into my ‘write’ section on WordPress. Because why not tell you what we feel, apparently I am not alone in this.
When you look outside, everything is a mess. The sick people, the fighting health workers, the struggling labourers, the risking delivery agents, the small business owners, the lost-job ones and of course the bigger elephant in the room, a cureless pandemic that’s eating the human race inch by inch.
And then here is us, a nice house to live in, a job that keeps us busy, knowing to cook three decent meals everyday, an internet connection, electricity and water that doesn’t go off, a set of hobbies to keep us engaged, probably a pet to pamper, a balcony with a view to have a warm cup of hot chocolate. So what’s the trouble? Shouldn’t we be grateful than ever in this crisis?
Here’s a thing, we are unbelievingly grateful for a life that we worked hard for the decent enough life we live in and the perks that come with it. But here’s another thing, that makes it even harder for us to talk about even the ‘silliest’ thing we could be going through because then it would come across as a ‘complain’ and not a ‘concern.’
Even the few of us who lived a less social life, initially felt this would be a cake walk. Alas, this is now making them feel invisible. Because back then, they could walk into their office and wave each other good mornings, pick their favorite coffee from the local coffee shop and chat with the barista who talked about his favorite flavor and how the kids loved it. Then, walk back into the house after a tiring day at work, enjoy the piece of silence and take long hot showers.
Alone, by The New York Times, puts together the wonderful stories of people around the globe who are fighting another battle inside them by living alone, among those who ‘grapple with isolation.’
We don’t even know what to say to people who tell us, “I wish I was you, can’t imagine what that freedom would taste like.” Oh yes, true that, you can’t imagine. It’s difficult to imagine. We both can agree on that at least.
The amount of freedom is vast and unknown, true. But that freedom included walking into cinema halls with cheese and/or caramel popcorn, waiting outside the H&M store for their annual sale, grabbing that hot cup of coffee and almost spilling it while rushing through your office doors, heading out for a late night snack from the neighbourhood cafe. And the list may go on and on. So, there on the freedom-indicator, we all are on the same red point.
It’s always easy to read or suggest to ‘take care’ of your mental health. That brain inside your head with eighty six billion nerve cells? That ain’t listening to us, so you are out of the question. We need to constantly keep ourselves engaged in the fear of falling apart. We all picked a few extra hobbies to keep ourselves sane, unlike others in this quarantine-mode. Also, not to forget, setting up our house every few days is among the top in that list. Rearranging furniture, new fixtures, lighting, changing sheets and so on.
What is helping a few of us though, is a routine. I know you might have read that everywhere on the internet by now, but this is very much beneficent for a solo-stayer. A routine can help your mind and body to function the right way without extra efforts and struggles.
A few years back I discovered Thrive Global, and they touch the right nerve of the youth in this era. They write and discuss a variety of topics that have been not only extremely relatable but also very helpful. Two recent ones I would highly recommend from their section of COVID-19 are Loneliness and Routine. And don’t worry they aren’t depressing and won’t make you even more sad. They explain and cut down on what emotions one may go through and the best trial options to take up and tackle them.
While I hope the world would heal sooner and prepare us to adjust to the new normalcy that’s awaiting us, I also pray you all be a lending ear to your family or friends who are by themselves through this tough time and vice versa. A kind word, a long virtual hug and a ‘take care’ text can go a long way. Remember, you could unknowingly be a beam of light in someone’s darkest room where on one could hear them, if they screamed.