“Distance sometimes lets you know who is worth keeping, and who is worth letting go.”
― Lana Del Rey
I won’t lie – I think I might be an All-Ireland champion at this whole social distancing craic. A natural. I’ve taken to going for long walks at around midnight just to absorb the quiet. Stillness has a lovely slow, steady heartbeat and sure with the country practically shutdown a man can grasp five and six minute clumps of it before a passing car breaks the spell.
So far, I have met one other human during my walks at the witching hour. Two reclusive ships passing in the night, me on the footpath and he thoughtfully hitting the indicator and swerving onto the bike lane. Normally I’d feel a bit embarrassed to be seen engaging in this type of behaviour in the old world, traipsing around the outskirts of town like this, but all told I’m definitely considering bringing this activity with me into the new world. Whenever the new world dawns.
A bit of exercise frees up the brain I find and blows away any repetitive thought cobwebs. Nothing too strenuous mind. A nice, gentle walk to sip in the surroundings I take for granted. In my alone-ness on the road, random wisps of ideas are conceived, observed and explored. For no other reason than the pure pleasure of it.
There hasn’t been much to think about other than the current terror that shall not be named. I got to thinking about the staging and presentation of it tonight on my travels. The 6pm and 9pm updates on the News with the latest numbers. Like embedded reports from an Aleppo or Basra. Except it’s here and the generals are more comfortable in a business casual attire. A military leadership that seems to be increasingly troubled by my kamikaze trips to the local Corrib Oil for a cappuccino. I’d be mildly concerned for a country that is relying on me to give up takeaway coffee.
But sure we are transfixed by it all really, this funereal dance and trance, consuming the latest casualty numbers with a morbid fascination. Yet each day a creeping, pervading worry ratchets up the realization that the vista in front of us isn’t a mirage.
I let this depressing thought trail off – to escape into the night along with the mist from my breathe – to make room for another. 2 metres.
This new physical distancing measure seems to be all around me. 2 metres. Keep your distance. It doesn’t sit well with me. It’s altogether too mathematical and scientific for a country like Ireland. Like most rules I explore the exception options. One that might suit my disposition better.
I am not hear to complain though. This pandemic social construct certainly agrees with a large part of my personality. I have passed many a not unhappy day of my earlier life where ” 20 Benson and Hedges – Please “ were the only sacred words to pass through my lips. Avoiding words comes easily so I like my chances of bypassing all of you good people for a time too.
I don’t mean to minimize the current situation for anybody – I am as likely as anyone to fall into it’s arms – as a hardened 30 year smoker. If you’re anxious about the situation just remind yourself I am much more likely to be the person under 50 left standing without a chair when the music stops. It reminds me of a GP visit I had about 10 years ago, when the good doctor kindly observed I had the lungs of a 60 year old. I haven’t been over-dosing on anti-aging pills for my chest in the intervening years let me tell you. The opposite unfortunately and as luck would have it, I am fairly certain the bug in the rug is most especially captivated by the age of my lungs. Hopefully he’ll choke on one of them.
Another thought struck me last night.
Do I actually want the old world to return?
I mean we all obviously need to work but I can definitely survive with less. Both things and people. Not that I have an overabundance of either – but life is certainly much simpler to manage at the moment. The important people get more of your time and thoughts. And the clutter of , for want of a better word, shite that I buy is down to almost zero. Bar the coffee that is.
Thankfully, no holiday home, investment properties or souped up 20-G repayments are keeping me up at night. To misquote Macbeth, lack of vaulting ambition is an investment that has finally paid off handsomely for me. If gym memberships exist in the new world I think I might just stick with these midnight strolls and instead buy a few of these hens that lay the golden eggs that are so hard to come by in Lidl and Aldi at the moment. It weirdly reassures me that eggs hold such high currency in the world at the moment. A most welcome development.
I catch myself smiling at this idea and look around quietly wondering if I have in fact been talking aloud for the previous couple of minutes. Luckily, there is not a sinner in sight nor a church open to hear his sins. A most peculiar time to be alive. And in my final new thought of tonight’s little ramble around the town I find my exception to the rule.
Physical distancing: When a man can comfortably talk to himself at no risk of being heard.
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