This is not the first pandemic I have lived through. I was surprised to realise it is my fifth pandemic in my lifetime.
This is the first one where I’m reflecting on what might be the long-term effects and impacts to our social interaction with each other socially and professionally.
These include concerns of inequality and risk, especially for people with disability (PWD), elderly people or people who already live with chronic health conditions. When it comes to making decisions about treatment and care to sustain or prolong life, I think there’s very real potential that PWD, older people or people living with chronic health conditions, who fall ill with COVID-19 may be ‘triaged’ out of receiving the healthcare they need or ‘deprioritised’ within the health system.
Ironically, COVID-19 has only held positive practical outcomes for me. During the third week of March, my employers made the decision early to move our whole team to work remotely. At first, I was reluctant to adopt this new way of working. I wanted to go back to business-as-usual.
I was also uncomfortable with the idea my day-to-day work responsibilities might ‘intrude’ on my personal living space. In the paraphrased words of a friend, I put great value to ‘walk through the front door at the end of the day with the knowledge that you are walking into your very own Fortress of Solitude’.
Each public health restriction announcement felt like a small insult. Each mandatory closure and direction to comply with physical distancing rules, felt like an unwieldy knitting together of dystopian plots, as state and national leaders sought necessary and rapid decisions in response to the pandemic.
In that first week, I found few reasons to leave my home. Deliveries of all kinds were readily available. The small postage or handling fees meant the extra hassles of parking, find the items, lugging them back to the car and then into the house was taken care of. On dusk each night, a tribe of eager humpbacked emissaries with their hot food sacks orbited the building.
I started to look at the benefits of this enforced seclusion. I also began to notice the privileges I had in this experience. Not everyone in this pandemic has the luxuries of employment, working from home, living space, or income. Social distancing is a privilege.
My travelling time to work became mere seconds rather than a process that took the better part of an hour.
As much as I enjoy my opinionated, vocally robust colleagues, and miss our regular discussions and debates in the office, a silent smooth ocean began to wash the days.
I began to notice I’m eating better. Breathing deeper. Slower.
The morning rush to the traffic queue has given way to a slower surrender of night into day. Mornings more precious to me. This time has become almost a retreat. A recalibration of time and place.
At the end of each day, I notice a spectral quietness snakes into the room. I exit from the online world and close the computer screen, and in that time, I’m home again.
As someone who has always lived in an animate, anomalous universe, the usual enchanted, synchronistic high-strangeness felt amplified.
For the better part of a year, I’ve been wishing I could find how to better integrate my whole life, rather than spending the greater part of each day separate and removed from the liminal ‘spaces in-between’ that I’m more familiar with.
In this time of ‘plague’, I’ve been able to set routines that merge my worlds in ways I would not have thought possible a month ago.
Quarantine has delivered a treasured experience where I can bridge the ‘everyday enchanted’ or ‘high strangeness’ with my daily life in new ways. A treasured recalibration of time and place.
I’ve used this time to set routines that integrate my worlds in ways I would not have thought possible a month ago.
Sleep gives way to a dark dawn edging slowly into consciousness long before the sun is up. That liminal time between trance and wakefulness. The ebb and flow of the call to ritual is more easily incorporated into my day. I feel like I’m existing across realities more than ever.
Elements that have emerged through the night, gnosis dripped into conscious, are present within sight and out of the view of strangers and colleagues on zoom meetings.
The workday planning notes, task lists and strategy drafts are strewn on the desk equally alongside divination tools, magical notebooks, correspondence lists and post-it note reminders for temple supplies. A strange blending of realities seep through and over boundaries I previously tightly monitored and patrolled.
Quarantine has delivered a treasured experience to bridge the ‘everyday enchanted’ or ‘high strangeness’ with my daily life in new ways.
The impacts of microscopic intracellular entities somewhere between living and non-living have left their mark on our lives. Today, in my splendid isolation, I realise this opportunistic microbe has been the unexpected pivot to what I’d been craving.
‘They’ say, be careful what you wish for…
20 June 2020