coronavirus diaries

Self-Isolation: The Coronavirus Diaries (day 2 & 3)

For previous days see here.

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Days 2 and 3

The next day I woke up about 11am, able to not feel guilty about lying in bed until near midday. Being a bum was now the socially responsible and ethical thing to do after all. Day one had been a day of writing before giving up and watching disaster movies to get me into the mood of the apocalypse. Some recommendations for getting yourself revved up for the potential end of humanity: Outbreak, Contagion, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead and The Omega Man. The latter three were zombie apocalypse movies; things hadn’t quite got that exciting yet, but one couldn’t be sure the rate things were spiralling out of control. One thing I realised at this point is that I had no food in the fridge at all. I had yet to face the hordes of humanity stripping the supermarket shelves dry and I was now due to get my first taste of the mindless madness. I ventured down to LIDL at the bottom of the road to find the shop in the same way I had seen on the media. I wandered around looking for supplies unsuccessfully. The human race had already stashed months’ worth of food in their pantries, fridges and cellars. In the end I walked away with some super noodles, broccoli stilton soup, a cheese and tomato pizza, and the very last box of LIDL-value bran flakes. The apocalypse was seeming more and more real every day.

Back home in my kingdom of isolation, I engaged in some reading and meditation before spending a solid hour staring into space. Having a wandering mind was a godsend in times like this and I was certain to go on many introspective adventures through the galaxies inside my head. Today my mind was reflecting on what this disaster meant for us as a species. Reading the news it was clear we were facing a huge change to our lifestyles and perhaps a period of reflection for where we were as a race. One news report said that due to the lockdown, countries such as China and Italy were seeing a massive drop in CO2 and pollution levels. With no planes in the sky, fewer cars on the road and many factories temporary closing down, the planet was finally catching its breath from the relentless battering we were giving it. On top of this, the canals of Venice could be seen full of fish and dolphins were coming closer to shore with the absence of boats.

The thought hit me that perhaps this was nature’s way of striking back against humanity. Effectively, we had been told off and sent to our rooms to self-isolate while mother nature tried to heal itself for a short while. The virus itself had even come from an animal like all the major disease outbreaks over the last twenty years – Sars, Swine Flu, Ebola and now Covid-19. One only had to watch a video of the inhumane practices and conditions animals were kept in at the market to maybe think this was our punishment for our brutal and cruel treatment of the animal kingdom. It was ironic I guess. In terms of the natural world, the human species could almost be seen as a virus itself in the way it spread, destroyed and consumed its natural environment – the very host it lived on. Perhaps all these diseases that threatened humanity were the antibodies of mother nature? Perhaps this was the planet fighting back against the very thing killing it?

It was a depressing thought to think of yourself as a biological virus so I turned to a bottle of red wine. I couldn’t drink with anyone else of course, so now it was socially acceptable to get totally drunk at home alone. I had waited for this day for a long time. I shamelessly poured myself an extra-large glass of wine, went on a youtube session and got chatting to some of my comrades who were also self-isolating around the world. One of which was a good friend who had been under lockdown for almost four weeks now in Northern Italy – the epicentre of the European outbreak. After four weeks of remaining indoors, he was now polishing off four wine bottles a day as well as a wide range of other exotic substances. I hadn’t descended that far into the depths of self-isolated madness just yet, but it would be interesting to see what debauchery awaited me over the next weeks. For now everything was all good and sane. I kept sipping my wine as the walls stood strong and I remained uninfected. The music roared from the speakers and the drinking went on for two days…

(days 4 and 5 to follow)

short stories

~ Moving Forth ~

~ Moving Forth ~

A dreadful silence filled the room. The surrounding walls looked at me with suffocating stares. I lay flat and still on my bed as the weight of the entire world pulled me down into the mattress. The dream had abruptly ended and I was back in my old bedroom, living at home with my parents after travelling around the world for one and a half years. From Brazil to New Zealand, the grand adventures had come and gone – all those soul-stirring experiences lost in the mist of mind and memory, and now I was back to where I grew up: penniless, alone and depressed, with no one close by who truly understood or cared how I felt.

On top of this, I had returned to my old job in the local supermarket. It was not something I had planned to do, but having been reckless enough to come home with no money and a considerable amount of debt, I immediately returned to a place I could walk into work straight away. This created some sort of time warp in my brain, as if the last one and a half years had all been nothing but some sort of surreal dream. As I walked down those aisles and stacked those shelves, I felt my heart being crushed slowly and surely by the old familiarity of it all. It really was true that absolutely nothing had changed. The same customers came in at the same times; the same scripted conversations were endured; the same items were stacked in the same places. As I worked, I stared emptily into space and let my mind wander off into the distance. How could so much have changed within me while everything here remained exactly the same? How could I live this other lifetime while people had stayed set in the same mode of existence? How could I go around the world and now feel so lost in my hometown?

Inevitably, I felt as if everything I had done was for nothing; I felt that all the life I had gained had been stolen off me. A total pointless waste of time. What a foolish dreamer I was, thinking that my big, post-graduation journey actually meant something. It all suddenly felt meaningless. And not just for me, but those close to me. Besides the obligatory ‘how was it?’ question, no one really had an interest in what I had done.

“So, I guess it’s time you joined ‘the real world’ now hey.”

     “Welcome back to reality.”

     “Time to get a proper job.”

These were the comments people shared with me about my trip. Misunderstood and alienated, my heart soon raged against everything around me. Reverse culture shock set in and I began to feel more foreign than I had while on my trip. This just about peaked on a bank holiday Sunday evening where I stood in a pub listening to everyone talk about jobs, football and television shows. Suddenly, standing in silence at the bar, I was mocked for wearing casual clothing and working in a supermarket. It was right there and then that I realised I had become a stranger in my own town. This was supposed to be home, but now it was clear the bohemian madness had finally claimed me: I now had no home. I was an exiled alien, lost somewhere in the great cosmic ocean of existence, devoid of a place of any real human belonging.

As I experienced this conflicting state of affairs, I thought of my companions I had shared my adventure with. Where were they now? What were they doing? Were they also back home, beset by the same doom and gloom as me? I racked my brain and remembered the moments of getting drunk on Copacabana beach on New Year’s Eve with Ana. I remembered partying on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake in New Zealand with my twenty housemates. Hiking to Machu Picchu with new friends. Climbing mountains in Bolivia. Cycling around wineries in Argentina. Yes, yes – all of those things! All those beautiful things swept away by the merciless waves of transience which eventually enveloped us all. The tides had turned, the fleeting friendships over and I now stood alone in what might as well have been another world altogether. Thinking about it all, I felt a strange feeling start to stir in my stomach. It was going to be a tough time, I knew.

The weeks and months continued to go by in tremendous solitude. I soon avoided going out as I couldn’t face the others. Consequently, those bedroom walls gradually suffocated me more and more. It wasn’t long until felt like a prisoner of some sort. In times of desperation, I let society’s influence set in; I went online and applied for those career jobs that I wasn’t interested in. This was the script I had told myself – that this big solo trip around the world after graduating university was my final blowout before retreating back to the world of normality to begin a steady career. It wasn’t until I went to an interview that I realised my delusion. As I sat there lying and pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I felt tremendous inner conflict burn inside my blood. Within me, a great fire roared and raged against it all. I quickly began to realise I was facing the music – that I was finally acknowledging that I wasn’t going to walk the straight path society wanted me to. I had been avoiding it for a long time it had seemed. From an early age, I knew in my gut that I didn’t belong to the world of careers and contracts – to sensibility and suburban sanity. I had suppressed the fact that I was incompatible with that world for many years and now it was time to accept that things in life weren’t going to be so straightforward for me. Acknowledging this, a personal crisis ensued. The dark clouds gathered inside my head and the rain poured down.

In the midst of this storm, I found myself visiting the nearby farm fields in the countryside daily. I guess it acted as a little bit of an escape from society. The allure of nature occasionally allowed some of the pain to momentarily reside, as if there was some whispering voice of wisdom in the wind and in the streams, trying to tell me something that would alleviate my suffering. Although it helped at times, it wasn’t enough to stop the terrible storm from raging inside my head. As the weeks and months went by, the thunderous noise increased in tune with my own despair and desolation. I gradually began to realise that these feelings were nothing new. It was true that I had felt out of place all of my life at home. From a young age, I knew deep down something inside of me was vastly different from the rest. Perhaps that was the source of past bouts of anxiety and depression, I considered. I had always known I didn’t fit into the world I grew up in, and it seemed I had subconsciously blocked out this fact to spare myself the pain of facing my isolation as the black sheep I undoubtedly was. But finally, at the age of twenty-four, the realisation had caught up with me. There was no denying it any longer: I was an abnormal outcast, a wretch not belonging to my place of birth.

Eventually one day I was walking in those fields and the weight of it all became too much. I couldn’t go on the way I was any longer. I stopped and stood alone in the middle of a field. I then looked up to the sky with tears of pain and rage, before collapsing down onto the ground. For a long time I just lay there motionless in the grass, feeling the wind whip against my skin and the pain and madness howl in my mind. I felt myself sinking deep into the earth beneath me, swallowed up whole by this world. It was true: I had been broken – the lowest I had ever sunk in my life. I was a destroyed man, shackled down by my demons, lying helpless and alone in the torture chamber, feeling myself disappearing into a state of non-existence.

Then something strange happened.

Somewhere deep inside of me, something changed – something was destroyed. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but at my lowest point I felt it implode on itself and dissipate into nothingness. In the wake of this, I then started to feel the pain gradually start to reside. I sat up and breathed in, wondering what the hell had just happened. Perhaps it was the sudden death of a demon within me that had been causing me all this pain? Perhaps it was the shackles of my mind which had finally split under the weight of all the pressure? Whatever it was, I felt its sudden destruction within me, followed by a feeling that was like coming up to the surface for a life-saving gasp of air. It was then that I realised a critical point had been reached; a peak of pain overcome. Feeling some strength start to return, I picked myself up from the hard ground. I then limped on home, knowing that something inside of me had changed forever.

In the months and years that followed that troubled time, I have still been limping on home. I wasn’t completely cured of my problems altogether. Something like that which brings you to the edge of destruction doesn’t just fade totally. But it was a moment that was pivotal for me – perhaps the most pivotal in my entire life. In that field that day was the moment I finally let go of a whole lifetime of suppressing my true self. In that field that day I allowed a persona I had been burdened with by society to be killed and faced up to the fact of who I really was. Since that turning point, I have gained mental clarity and been able to overcome my inner conflicts and struggles; I have been able to summon the courage to become the person I was born to be, and not the one society tried to mould me into. With a new profound faith in my own inner being, I have continued my adventures all over the world, I have summited the mountains, I have trekked the countries, I have written the words – I have stopped caring what other people think of me and come to terms with the fact that I am a born outsider. With myself adjusted to this new state of being, I have found my true calling and followed it fiercely with all my heart and might and passion. The tides have turned once again, and I now stare into those morning mirrors, proud to see my authentic self gazing back at me, ready for whatever’s next upon the great beautiful journey of life.

You know, it is true that many times in this life an individual suffers tremendously with coming to terms with who they really are. Human society and the cultures we exist in are enough to send any man or woman into isolated states of despair and depression and desolation. With everyone around you trying to mould and shape you from a young age, it’s easy to get confused and lose yourself in the madness of it all. It truly is a fight to be yourself in this world, especially if you are driven by a deep inner desire that leads you away from the herd. But if anything is worth fighting for, then it is the essence of yourself, and no good warrior ever won a great battle without having to go through some struggles. On the quest to your own destiny, you will undoubtedly face isolation. You will face discomfort and doubt. You will face the situation of being misunderstood by those around you. But please, if you feel that fire within you then have a little faith in your inner voice, don’t keel over to something which insults your soul, and don’t give up on yourself just because sometimes you may have to walk alone through haunted places. No, stand up tall and walk wide-eyed into the wilderness. Descend into the depths of yourself and meet your demons face to face. Fearlessly explore every ounce of your own being. After a certain amount of time exploring your inner self, you will go back out into the world as a warrior of the wild, and from that position on you will be stronger and more resilient than ever before. Your eyes will blaze with brightness. Your heart will ache with passion. Your gut will rumble with thunder. With a ferocious tenacity for life, you will live the life that sets your soul on fire – the life that your very heart screams out for. Your path will be thrilling and magical, and when you reach the end of your road, you will have no regrets about the life you lived. You will have a victory of personal authenticity. You will have a victory of individual courage. As you become the person you were born to be – and not the one they told you to be – you will have the greatest victory of all:

you will have the victory of yourself.

 

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thoughts

~ The Medicine of a Mountain Wilderness ~

~ The Medicine of a Mountain Wilderness ~

“How beautiful life was that day when you allowed yourself to forget the stress of life and just be happy in the moment. With just a backpack on the trail and the playful hunting of the horizon, how beautiful life was when nothing else mattered except putting one foot in front of the other and just moving forward through time and space. How happy you were when you looked at the world like a child once again and saw the simple beauty of a singular flower swaying in the valley breeze.

In all our civilisation and development, we have led ourselves astray from real wealth – from what really matters. The greatest beauty of the world is so often missed every day because we are too caught up in a convoluted system in which we fly around like electrons in a circuit board. We seek status but not contentment; we seek products but not peace; we seek future but not a connection with the present moment – the only thing we can ever truly experience.

The system has us confused and sometimes all it took was a backpack and a walk in nature to discover our humanity once again. Because out on that trail, I have seldom seen faces of fear and stress and hate that march down busy city sidewalks. The reason why is that everyone shines a little brighter the day they rediscover the playful joy of the natural universe – when they reconnect with their childlike spirit. Everyone shines a little brighter the day they remember that life is a mystery to be experienced, and not a battle to be won.”

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thoughts

~ An Inner Belonging ~

~ An Inner Belonging ~

“And you didn’t see the world like the rest did, that much was clear. You didn’t belong in those crowds or sat on sofas in those suburbs of sanity. You didn’t see no victory in comfort and security, nor find salvation in the acceptance of others. You knew somewhere inside of you that you were a foreign thing; a wayward wanderer of the cosmos incompatible with the world that was presented to you. The situation seemed hopeless, but with a heart full of fire and a mind full of madness you began your solitary journey through the wilderness, following that ineffable pull of the heart, rising up against the storms, trudging through the swamps – moving fearlessly towards some sort of place you could call home. And as your journey went on, you gradually began to realise that the destination never mattered, for it was out there in that untamed wilderness where your stray-dog soul truly belonged. Out on those rugged plains was the place your spirit could run free – a place you could be yourself in your gritty messiness and madness. Out there you travelled so far until you eventually ventured inward and found the place you finally belonged.

You finally found the home that was the kingdom of yourself.”

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poetry

~ A Kingdom Untouched ~

~ A Kingdom Untouched ~

There is a flag which flies in my heart. 
It flutters in winds of hate and dances in storms of pain. 
It stays raised proudly at full mast in the darkest of all nights. 

There is a flag which flies in my heart.

It will never be replaced by another. 
No tyrant will ever take it down; 
nor storm wear it away,
forever it will flutter free in that breeze, 
overlooking untamed lands.

There is a flag which flies in my heart.

It is the flag of joy
the flag of hope
the flag of adventure 

it is the flag of a kingdom 
which will never be conquered 
in this life, 

or the next.

poetry

~ Stay Wild ~

~ Stay Wild ~

Dear child, I write you from afar
and ask only one thing for you to take into consideration for your one precious life.

Through the toils of the years, and the battles of society – I ask you to stay wild.
Consider this for you were forged in the stars, and assembled in the wilderness;
and – though illusion may pervade – nature will always remain your only real home.

Shake loose the shackles of the poachers whenever their locks tighten so.
Fight off the tyrants whenever they go near what must not be touched.
Spit out the decaying taste of the plastic soul’s dust.
Never wander too far into corporate falseness.
Stay wild – in mind, body, heart and soul.

Whenever you can, get back to your nature;
live out on the fringes, and exist on the edges,
among the wild eyes and undomesticated souls,
for that is where the magic happens.

Entertain new developments;
playfully dance with new philosophies;
and toy with new technologies
but never forget to come back,
into the trees; to the depths of the waters.
and the murkiness of the unknown.

For that is where you truly belong:
deep between the roots of the forest;
in the expansive emptiness of the clouds;
and the timeless universe of the ocean.

Where the magic happens

in the wild.

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poetry

~ An Inner Nature

~ An Inner Nature ~

The wolves are howling in my mind
The lions are prowling this heart of mine
The eagles are nesting within my brain
Nurturing a life which has no name

Any attempt to claim it will be rejected
Any offers to buy it won’t be accepted
Any nets that are cast will be shaken free
Any spears will bounce off the bark of me

Because behind this soul which they try to pierce
There is a creature roaming wild and fierce
Behind this skin which they try to maim
There is a tiger which cannot be tamed

And no matter how much they cut me down
My roots still run below the ground
No matter how much they burn my leaves
My springs still see them return with ease

Because behind these eyes that lie wide and open
Are the wings of birds which cannot be broken
Within this blood that flows like the breeze
Is a spirit of joy which will never be seized

And no matter what they say and do
The light of my soul will still shine through
And any attempt to poach it will be met with rage
For a child of the wild does not belong in a cage.

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thoughts

~ A Warrior of the Wild ~

~ A Warrior of the Wild ~

“And there comes a moment in your life when you know that they have failed to break you down. As you emerge with those eyes full of fire from the swamps and storms, as you throw down the muck and mess and madness – as you stagger forth fearlessly with the light of the cosmos still blazing bright in your heart. You will know that they have failed to break you down. When you hear that wolf still growling inside your head – still untamed, still rising up – your raw truth still propelling you forward against all the hollow-hearted and empty-eyed creatures who abandoned the very essence of life and themselves. You will know they have failed to break you down. When you remember that you chose love and not hate; courage and not fear; freedom and not slavery. And though your journey through the wild may have left you scratched and scarred, your very flesh will shine in the sun like a beautiful beacon of victory. You will bear the marks that show you fiercely followed your heart – that show you walked the path of the wild warrior. You’ll bear the marks that show you went out there and lived a life, and didn’t just exist in one.”

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thoughts

~ A State Of Being ~

~ A State Of Being ~

“Yes it’s true. I am a little crazy, a little deranged, a little bit off the rails. But spare me your doctors, your drugs – your diagnosis. I don’t need to be fixed or repaired; I don’t need to find a way to ‘fit in’ to some system of routine and predictability. I live in a world of chaos and madness and mystery, but I like it this way. It is only in the untamed spaces where I feel a sense of belonging. It is only in the unknown where I salvage what my soul needs. It is only when I venture beyond those fences of normality and out into the woods of madness that I feel totally at home.”

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thoughts

~ Moments Alone ~

~ Moments Alone ~

“There are times when there aren’t enough words or combinations of words to explain yourself to the others. There are times when it is simply too exhausting to stand once again before non-understanding eyes and feel the futility of conversation. In those times what is needed is complete solitude, a total release from the suffocation and toxicity of the crowd. What is needed is a return to nature to remind yourself that, although you may be often misunderstood in society, the universe still holds a home for you out in the wild. It holds a home for you in those empty fields, sunset shores and lonely forests. It holds a home for you in the untamed spaces of freedom and purity. And often all that is needed to carry on is a moment out in that wild – staring out at a sunset sky or listening to the water sing its way down a meandering stream – that you remember that somehow, in all the mess and madness of this world, you are and always will be totally where you belong.”

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