The word isolated always makes me think of the Arctic. I’m not sure if it’s just a cold sounding word or if I generally have some weird childhood memory tied to that but isolation makes me think of igloos and polar bears. If I was Co-Star (which I’m not), I might say that it’s because I’m an extrovert, and the idea of being isolated doesn’t quite resonate with my being. Alternatively, I could just be real and say I chat a lot and the idea of being left on my own for too long with my own thoughts makes me feel a bit depressed.
Isolation in itself is a strange concept for humans. We observe solitary living in other animals, but we humans aren’t meant to live on our own. We live in complex networks of tribes, families, hapū, iwi, communities, work families, and chosen families. We seek others to bring us company, laughter, and comfort. We seek others to avoid isolation and so when we are made to isolate, we can then struggle
As I write this editorial I am packing my bags to move out of my home for two weeks. Two of the people I live with are returning from overseas travel that has been cut drastically short and they will take over the house to self isolate. I should specify that whilst it isn’t a requirement that I move out, as a household we decided this would be best. It’s a strange feeling, made only better by the large glass of wine I’m sinking to handle what is otherwise stressful and short notice.
Isolation is a strange – but essential – part of how we as humans deal with the ongoing pandemic around us. Please look out for one another, check in with your families.
I’ll admit it: I was wrong.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me if I thought COVID-19 would change anything in our day-to-day lives. I looked them square in the eyes and told them they’d be crazy to think anything would be different.
Since I made that grand pronouncement, the government has introduced mandatory self-isolation for all travellers, airlines have started closing down international flights, the 500-person rule has been announced, and a school in Dunedin has been forced to shut-down. Oh, and the number of cases in New Zealand has sky-rocketed from four to twenty-eight.
I think I’ve comprehensively proven I’m a terrible guesser. And yet, I’m going to predict one last thing: I really do think that by the time you read this, the university will have been closed. If I’m right, that probably means you’re in some form of self-isolation. You’re probably reading this from home, lying on the couch, or in bed, counting down the days until lockdown is lifted.
Normally, I’d make fun of this. I’d throw some jokes in – some shit about being careful to lock the door before you wank, or about how it’s important to leave a fire screensaver burning on the Kate Edgar computers before you leave (you wouldn’t want to lose your seat, after all). But it feels weird to joke right now. It’s a strange and stressful time. Whenever I go to write something funny, I remember: people have died. People are stressed. People are being laid off, and cut off from family, and having their plans for the year cancelled and dismembered and destroyed.
So yeah. This week there aren’t any jokes. Just a real, and sincere message: look after yourself. Look after the people around you. Not just in terms of washing your hands – although you should be doing that too – but mentally, emotionally too. If you are at home, stay mentally active. Keep in contact with your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
And keep your eyes on the Craccum facebook page. That’s not a shameless plug; I’m serious. I have the feeling things are going to be changing quickly – and I promise we’ll try to keep everyone as up-to-date as we can.