Updated: May 5
Words by Edward Murden - @spookyelvis_
Main photo by Robin Hardman
When we’ve got no-one to compare ourselves to, how do we know who we are? You wake up each morning, you stretch and shower before heading into the living room. Maybe you chance a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, the first and last face of the day. You enter into a room inevitably full of things that belong to you and echo back ideas that are nearly always your own. The films and books you pick up on friends recommendations become the closest thing to outside influence left when you can’t leave the house.
For a few days, it was relaxing to not be out and about, chatting to people in bars and constantly being advertised to. The busyness of city life stopped and we had a few moments to collect together those small things that bring us joy. But until now I hadn’t realised how reliant I was on differing opinions to get a sense of who I am. I know that for me when I am alone for too long I can sink too easily into the comfort of my own opinions and start to become blinkered by what I think I understand. With my laptop still close at hand it's easy enough to message people, to arrange calls or make plans for long in the future. So like always I stroll, seeing what friends and families are doing to cope. What film or album they think best express the feelings involved with this period of self-isolation. I could think of some things that might help, I could run off lines from Emily Dickinson, The Plague or even The Young Ones where all the boys get sick and can’t leave their beds. I might yet because these examples are great antidotes for our boredom and remedies for our collective loneliness. But then I notice one of my friends has already said it. It’s often like this in times of trouble, all our friends sharing posts, saying the same things over and over. I wonder does it really relieve us of the sensation that who our day-to-day stopped when our pubs, clubs and places of work shut?
While we’re all doing our best to encourage the people we think deserve it and to support the places that we think need supporting we should be careful not to go too far into ourselves. Right now our communities have really pulled together and I hope that it continues once we’re allowed out again, but I only think that we should keep an eye on what else is going on. Returning back to our lives when this period is over could easily be full of that slight awkwardness you get when seeing friends who you used to be close to but have somehow grown apart from. Our conversations may be clumsy and we could feel like running back into our homes all over again. Watch that new movie by that director you hate, listen to a stranger’s playlist or read that book you started and then put down again. You may find your new favourite artist or maybe just reinforce your position. Either way, it’s good practice for when we’re back out in the world and having everything thrown at us again.