What a long time a week has become! My seven days of self-isolation are nearly up. But now, the whole country is told to isolate. So we will have to develop patterns of behaviour that will sustain us through the next few months. How can we be isolated yet not alone, separate but not suffering from loneliness?
Having technology that enables us to speak with each other and see each others’ faces is a great boon. On Mothering Sunday three daughters and a granddaughter were able to share news and laughter with their Mum via WhatsApp video linking. Mum sat in the conservatory with the door open to the garden where our middle daughter and granddaughter sat in the cool sunshine. Meanwhile our eldest daughter and youngest daughter with family were on WhatsApp. I was standing at an upstairs bedroom window able to join in the live conversation happening below as well as share in some of the WhatsApp time.
The humble telephone has also regained some of its value as a way of speaking to one another, rather than for its camera, browsing or other features. But Skype and Zoom are also playing a significant part in enabling face to face conversations. Our learning-as-we-go-along approach to technology moves into another phase as we are denied other forms of being together.
There are still hours spend alone in the room. But I do have an old TV with DVD playing capacity. So I have binged on Jason Bourne films and I have a pile of others to choose from if needed. I have also tried Amazon Prime video and really enjoyed watching Last Holiday again.
On a practical level I have been able to carry on with my responsibilities as a Trustee. I have sent advice to all Local Meetings following Government instructions to close down our premises. For my Local Meeting I have prepared and sent all the invoices for the Lettings this term. I may not be a key worker but there are some things that have to be done!
The most important aspect of all this has been the wonderful care I have been receiving from my wife, through meals cooked and delivered to the bedroom door and the conversations through the door about how we are both doing and how we are reacting to the news. We may not be allowed physical contact but a smile and practical care mean the world!
It was also a surprise to receive a call from my sister and later messages from my brothers. This is such a rare event but especially welcome just now.
We may be isolated but we are not alone, separated but not lonely.