For previous days see here.
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)
~ Being Yourself ~
“I guess when it comes down to it, no one else is going to make you truly happy but yourself. When all is said and done at the end of the day, it’s you and that mirror reflection. It’s you and the solitude and silence. It’s you and that voice inside your head. And if you can’t be happy in those environments, then you are always going to be a slave of another person or system. We think of loneliness as being alone but often the greatest loneliness is felt by those dwelling in crowds to which they do not belong, who depend on others’ validation for their happiness – who speak words that they do not feel and follow paths which are not their own. These are the people who have wandered so far from the essence of themselves that they see only strangers in their reflection. These are the people whose true selves are locked away in forgotten places of spiritual isolation. Each year that neglect slowly tears away pieces of themselves. Learning to be happy on your own is what is necessary to keep your true self intact. Not dependent on the crowd, you will retain your individuality; not defined by the system, you will retain your unique shape. And from there blossoms the beauty of the individual. The strength of a person who is at home in their own inner world, rather than that which is constructed and dictated by others. Self-actualized, empowered – the one who looks into that mirror knowing that their life is their completely their own. The life of personal truth. The life of substance and authenticity. The life of someone who isn’t afraid to be totally and completely:
“You’ve gotta hold on to them. Those dreams and desires that haunt your heart; that stir in the depths of your soul; that scratch and claw at the walls of your skull. It is easy – it is so very easy to listen to those voices of fear and doubt. To keel over under the weight of the system. To abandon your deepest desires for the sake of a comfortable and crowd-pleasing existence. It takes something a bit extra to abandon such notions and walk fearlessly in the direction of your truest life. And yes: the journey won’t be easy or straightforward. Doubt and discomfort will be felt. Isolation will be experienced. The reflection in the mirror will stare back with testing eyes. But the beauty of living a life totally true to yourself will give those eyes a unique shine – a shine that is hard to find in a world where so many let their inner flame die out without a fight. Don’t let that fate be your fate. Don’t let yourself become another wanderer in that wasteland of broken dreams. Be brave enough to follow your heart. Have the courage of a warrior; the mind of a dreamer; the spirit of a hunter. Have the guts of someone who chose not to settle for life, but who instead felt the glory of what it was like to run full-speed in the direction of their deepest dreams and desires.”
~ The Silent Submission ~
“It’s a world of broken people with broken hearts. Of minds full of desperation and desolation. Of starving souls sitting behind desks and staring into space, dreaming of something distant and out of reach – something that can not be purchased in any store or downloaded onto any computer. It’s a world of people tightly gripping onto steering wheels as they try not to go insane on the morning commute. A world of people scrolling on their phones to try and connect with someone or something. A world of people drifting down the sidewalks of life, following someone else’s path and not their own. The absurdity pervades and I like so many others have stared up into those skies dreaming of something to take me away from all this madness. The human condition. The suffocation of society. The struggle to hang onto who you really are as this world strikes you from every angle. Few make it through the machine without being torn up beyond repair. Out there on those streets I stare at the passing faces and see eyes losing their light, hearts losing their fire, minds losing their madness. I see tired faces of sickness and sadness. I see mouths that move but do not speak. This thirst for life in my veins will not let me succumb to the same solemn fate. The wilderness in my heart roars out for some kind of glory. The glory of breaking free from it all. The glory of taking your mind back from the machine. The glory of making sure your life is one that is lived totally to the full, and not stutters slowly into a silent submission of the heart and mind and soul.”
~ A Hidden World ~
There is a world inside you that remains hidden. No matter how much they stare or try to understand you, no matter how many words leave your mouth, no matter how often your eyes meet their eyes – there is a place beneath the surface that they just never see. And even with all those drawings you sketch and words you write down, there isn’t enough ink in this world to truly show another the space in which you reside. That expression sometimes helps, but ultimately you know you’ll find yourself standing again before eyes that remain blind to your nature. Because there is a world inside you that remains hidden. And as the days drift by and you sit in the crowd listening to those foreign conversations, as you observe the human race like you are on safari – as you retreat again and again back into the depths of yourself because you know that they just wouldn’t understand – you learn to bare that private burden of isolation and separation. Being alone in the crowd becomes commonplace; biting your tongue becomes commonplace; staring longingly into skies above becomes commonplace. As those years go by, you learn to exist in the solitary spaces and sink deep into the ocean of your own inner being.
Make no mistake about it: it can be scary and isolating to feel like you’re a stranger amongst your own species. Not everyone has a way of being that can be so easily understood by others, and consequently there are certain people who choose to instead exist alone within the private world of themselves. If such is your fate then do not despair but learn instead to inhabit that world fully. Find inner peace and nurture that space within. Let the flowers grow in your heart; let the sun shine in your soul; let the doves fly in your mind. Raise the flag of joy within and rule that kingdom proudly. And if you ever meet someone who ever fully does understand, when they finally venture in and tread those first footsteps, they will see a world so beautiful that they will look at you in the crowd and smile, knowing that there is a heaven on earth hidden behind the eyes of an angel.
~ Some Way ~
“At times I wonder how much longer I can linger inside this brain of mine. This burning room, untouched and unseen by those that have laid their eyes on me. I am hidden from view, a prisoner of sorts. Many times I have been overcome by the darkness. I have been down in the sewers with the rats and the madness, crawling on my hands and knees, searching for flickers of light and hope in the shadows. I have been beaten down, almost destroyed, somehow summoning the strength to stand up once more against the deluge of the storm. Yet through all these things, the smile remained on my face. The ‘fine thanks, you?’ came out of my mouth. Those people: they don’t see this secret prison of mine – and yes, for some of them, I don’t see theirs too. This is the absurdity of the human condition. So many of us are walking mysteries of sickness and sadness. So many of us inhabit private prisons that no one else will ever see or know. Out there on those streets I stare into passing eyes and wonder how many are also trying to not be consumed by the darkness. Getting up some days to face the world often takes enormous courage. These are the secret battles we fight again and again. These are the storms we endure in silence and solitude. And now as I sit at this keyboard and the sadness grips me one more time, I guess I’ll keep fighting on the only I know how to. What else, after all, is there to do but to keep on moving. To keep on surviving. Somehow.
~ Heading Home ~
“Sometimes you wonder how many souls are also out there drifting through life, staring into space and skies, dreaming of something ineffable, a home that can never seem to be found here or there or anywhere. The eyes scan and search those grey streets for another of your kind, but you know deep down your fate is to wander alone through the wilderness of life, becoming ever more scratched and scarred by the wild things roaming around inside of you. You know you deserve a home, everyone deserves to feel like they have a home, even if it’s just for a short period, to stare into the eyes of another who finally understands, but ultimately nothing comes or arrives. Its the dark room of isolation. It’s the solitary shoreline. It’s the tired head against the bus window. It’s the trudging on alone through the swamps and storms, fighting through the muck and mess and madness in your own mind. Yet through all of this inner chaos, comes a great strength somewhere inside of you, strong enough to blast the darkness, to slay your demons and save yourself from the haunted places. In your own isolation, you gradually become a warrior of the wild – your own protector, your own saviour. You create your own world and forge your own path home. Even if you will never find it, you’ll always be out there hunting the horizon with wide eyes, moving fearlessly forward to the lands of your distant destiny. To the lands of salvation. To the lands of light and love and the life that is yours and will always be yours.”