Self isolation or normal life

When I was young I would quite often fetch a chair, a book, a drink, a snack and some music on my trusty tape recorder. My Mum would glance wryly in my direction and say, “You’re having a party, aren’t you?” And I would agree, pleased with myself, and pleased also that I didn’t have to excuse my seeming passivity. It was never part of my plan to examine why? Why was I having a party for one?

This pandemic will have far-reaching outcomes for many of us. There is much talk of economic collapse, travel and leisure restrictions, and self isolation. We are alarmed at the prospect of managing without normal human intercourse for two, three weeks, even months.

Which got me thinking. How many of us spend a lot of time alone anyway? For whom is self isolation alarming? Those of us who go to parties, meet lots of people, travel as part of their normal expectations and eat out most lunchtimes may have to start thinking about that. Until yesterday, the prospect of spending three weeks with family at home was bracing, and had not made me unhappy. It was simply par for the course, and, actually, when I thought about it, perhaps I have been used to spending acres of time alone anyway, at home. I’m used to it, and I’m certain I’m not the only one.

It seems alarming to so many of us that we will have to curtail our expectations, but a lot of my disabled friends live day and daily with curtailment, and with expectations that make the prospect of enforced home stays almost a pleasure: no more having to pretend, or make such an effort, or be part of a bigger something that simply refuses to see, and that characterises honesty as self pity.

Perhaps an unintended outcome from this is that we learn to have more empathy for those with so little: the homeless, the poor, the vulnerable, our brave minorities who only wish to belong. I count myself as exceptionally lucky that I have support, love, kindness, options and a sense of humour. And that I am good at living with little, and have been so chronically accustomed to having low social expectations. Ski-ing holidays in the Vosges? Forget it. Parties and clubs? Pubs? Not often…

Thanks for listening. Stay safe.

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