Cracks are beginning to appear.
We’re getting on each other’s nerves, the ‘Woman Who Lives in My Head’ and I.
She seems obsessed with the news, the latest depressing COVID19 statistics, the increasing signs of a temporary (albeit necessary) nanny state, the never-ending uncertainty. I tell her I’m sick of hearing about it.
‘You!’ she says, pointing an accusatory finger, ‘you’re the one who likes to be informed, who is curious about the way the world works.’
‘Well, yes,’ I explain patiently. ‘But there comes a point where dwelling on such things threatens my mental health and so I back off. I prefer to work on keeping my family communication lines open, Skyping my interest groups, chatting online with friends.’
‘What if they’re just illusions?’ she says. ‘What if they only exist in your mind?’
I’ve already been down that path. I could be the only person left on the planet … but for plenty of contradicting evidence. So I point out to her the things that are ‘real’ for me. The things that get me up each morning, that nourish my optimism.
Gratitude: for the love of friends and family; for my health; for having access to food, shelter; and soul nourishing things like tending my garden, listening to music, having books to read. I’m grateful for technology which keeps me connected to online communities of family and friends like those on WordPress. For the random good luck of being born in a country like Australia.
Time: to contemplate my reaction to these events, to reflect on personal growth; to ponder on what is truly important; to pursue interests I haven’t had time for in the past.
Grateful for a sense there are seeds of kindness sprouting amid the disaster.
‘Well, now you’re becoming boring and preachy,’ she huffs. And maybe she’s right. Although telling others how to traverse difficult times is beyond me and never my intention. I simply want to understand and share my story. Others will have far more difficult stories to tell. But those are for them to relate.
I like to imagine a thriving, global garden of stories, defining us as a species, evoking compassion, showing us how other people live their lives. Helping us appreciate our own.
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
― Philip Pullman