By the Armchair Philosopher
“Whatever you’re happiest doing!” is a phrase many of my friends have cheerily used in the strange new times and strange new world we are forced to embrace.
My friends, relatives and acquaintances are well intentioned: Whatever YOU are happiest doing.
They are handing the responsibility for my happiness back to me and giving me the widest choice possible.
However, that’s just it.
I just don’t know the answer.
I just don’t know what to do with myself, as the late, great Dusty Springfield so eloquently sings.
And that sums me up to a tee.
I just DO NOT know! This indecisiveness must be very frustrating for those who knew me before. I must appear so different from my former self.
Friends ask me if I am happier meeting up online and I hear myself replying that yes, I AM happier meeting online.
But that’s not strictly true…
In pre-Covid times, I was a “people person”.
Hearing other folks’ stories used to keep my world turning.
I used to thrive on that.
How I used to love a blether …
Now I actively avoid other people.
It is NOT that I’m happier meeting up online, it’s just I am no longer happy meeting up in person.
Like many other folks, I have felt like a recluse since this pandemic started.
No hairdresser, no supermarket since March 2020, nor cafés or restaurants.
My hairdresser has been very understanding.
I am not alone in this non-attendance.
Many of her clients have not yet returned to have their hair cut and styled.
Time and time again, I ask myself:
Am I being reasonable? Or am I moving too slowly?
But is it reasonable to have a timescale anyway?
And whose timescale should it be?
Then doubt creeps in: Is it possible to maintain friendships on a virtual level only?
How can you maintain the closeness you have with another person if you’re only pinging a text back and forwards and you don’t meet up in real life?
Then I convince myself surely some contact is better than nothing and this virtual online existence is very similar to families whose children emigrated in the 60s and had to keep in touch via landline or letters.
Or the modern family who have travelled globally and are scattered widely.
Surely the quality of their relationship is still maintained despite the miles dividing them?
Through the power of technology, family ties remain strong.
One of my new virtual pals from Clydesider, Emily, suggested I should write my personal feelings all down in this article as it would maybe resonate with how others are feeling.
Steven, another online pal, kindly suggested looking at a very special app, “Action for Happiness”, where you have a calendar with positive suggestions for each day based on the theme of that month.
FriendlyFebruary urged you to reach out to others, tell them you care, offer to help and make a difference.
Action for Happiness is a movement of people (281,299 from 190 countries) committed to building a happier, more caring society.
It’s a brilliant website with positive tips stories and a podcast, not to mention free courses on happiness and hopefulness.
What a game changer, thank you Steven!
Amanda, our editor, told us about a blog entitled ”My Sweet Dumb Brain” by a young widow, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, which speak of her grief, depression, hope, sadness and joy.
I read a few posts and one in particular, struck a chord.
She suggests listening to the seasons, not ask too much of yourself and indeed, seek to do less, especially over the winter months.
We should stop pushing ourselves so hard and having unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
My online friends and I might not be able to hug in person, but I could feel the strength of their embrace in these caring suggestions.
I have to look inwardly and accept I have changed.
But it’s not just me.
Everyone has been affected by this pandemic, tragically, some much more than others.
No one has remained unscathed, old and young alike.
I guess it’s what you do with yourself and your family and how you come out the other end that matters.
But the realisation that everyone is different and so are their needs, wants and attitudes, goes a long way.
I don’t expect folk to march to the beat of my drum so neither should anyone force me to get in step with theirs.
Never has that famous saying: “Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins,” been more fitting.
So, go ahead, walk in those moccasins, keep moving forwards, get up, get on and try your best to keep going.
Who knows, you might even start sprinting, skipping or even dancing along the way.