Spending week after week in isolation away from family and loved ones is, I would imagine, hard on anyone who values those connections. I can assure everyone it is hard on me and I will make a bee-line to see them once we are through the charge of this latest crisis.
Yet, the lessons I am learning about myself are not the obvious relationships to family and friends. What I am learning is that some of the most important relationships are those that are uncomplicated, nearly transactional and are the social binders of everyday life. I miss waving daily to the neighbor I know nothing about except that I see her every morning and that, surprisingly, I miss seeing her. There are many more instances such as these, your favorite bank teller, the owner of the corner grocer who has a smile for everyone and the denizens of your gym who, on the whole, you don’t know anything about but that they, like you, belong there.
This has been the most surprising conclusion for one whom, since childhood, has believed that to “need” these connections is a weakness.
I think what this actually is is a residual defense mechanism from my youth. Growing up a child of ADHD and a student of the special education program, I naturally insulated myself from those that might harm me and those who didn’t see me at all. Isolation and insulation was a way of life for the first 20 years of life. It was armor. And it was shed only ever so slowly as maturity provided new tools to navigate the social universe. But I always saw my ability to sustain any isolation as virtue.
After 4 weeks(?) of isolation and working from home I think I can throw off that nonsense…finally. Human beings are complex and their social interactions, reactions and interpretations are complicated. But that having been said, we are meant to be social, to interact, to form short and long term relationships. These interactions are key to good health, no less than exercise and nutrition.
This is the lesson I will take with me into the future.