I’ve been examining my mental state closely over the past six months.
First we had two months of the worst bushfires my area (and my country) had ever seen. My semi-adrenalised state during that time never really normalised. I was ready to stand and fight if need be, or run to the hills if it was all too much. At one point there were three seperate and massive fires surrounding my village. The steady impact of the unknown, and the rise and fall of the intensity of the situation led to many sleepless nights.
Directly following the fires we had six weeks of torrential rain. We received half our annual rainfall in two days at one point. I’ve been building an earth house for several years now, and the rain washed away large swathes of earth render from the external walls. I again lay awake at night in emergency mode, hoping like hell the water would not seep into the straw bales inside the render and rot them from the inside.
And now we have the most interesting thing to happen to our culture and our species for eighty years, since the end of the Second World War. A now-familiar anxiety sits uncomfortably in my stomach, noticeable when I am quiet.
What is most fascinating to me is WHY I feel this way. Why the hell am I anxious? It’s worth asking yourself the question.
For example, I am now sitting at my desk typing away, while the birds sing outside, my children sleep in bed, and my coffee cools in its cup. The last three or four days have been completely normal for all intents and purposes. We’ve done some shopping and found some shelves empty, and we haven’t interacted physically with any friends or colleagues, but besides that, it’s been pretty ordinary.
So why the anxiety?
I’m not concerned about catching COVID. The statistics quite clearly show that I’m fit and healthy enough to not require medical intervention. I believe my family is strong enough too.
I’m not concerned about giving it to any at-risk people in my community. My parents-in-law are self-isolating, and so are many older people. We are taking measures to protect those people by isolating ourselves as well.
I’m not concerned about the apocalypse. I don’t believe it will get that bad that we are all fighting each other and the covid-zombies.
So where is this internal tummy-ache coming from?
After weeks of self-assessment I’ve realised: it’s the social unknown. It’s trying to understand and normalise a local and global change to the way we operate.
The goal of government is to keep things ordinary for it’s citizens so they can buy and sell and breed and sleep at night. The government is unable to keep this outbreak ordinary. And so we see social restlessness. I wouldn’t call it upheaval. There are no riots in the streets. But things have changed, and we can’t see an end to it.
And that, in a nutshell, is the source. No end in sight. We do not understand the endgame, because we can’t see all the moving pieces. It’s near impossible to strategise as an ordinary citizen as we have no visibility as to the aims and desires of our fellow nation states, and even our own government.
Humans don’t like wobbliness in our lives. We strive for control. We in the West have lived the last couple of decades in a highly controlled environment, and have begun to believe that this is the way life is.
Sorry. Wrong. Life is highly dynamic, and we’re now seeing the cracks in our beautifully controlled snowglobe.
One thing we can be absolutely sure of though: It will end. There can be no doubt. In some way, somehow, this will end, and the next chapter of our lives, of our species, of our planet, will begin.
Can my belly get used to the unknown? Let’s give it a go.