It’s curious how I have always believed, like most other people, that all I need to write, is time on my own. Today is the 72nd day of not seeing another human being, and yet, most of what I’ve written is daily letters, forty of them, and the occasional poem. The magnum opus is stuck on chapter three, the characters of short stories seem to have taken off on their own lockdown, and my creativity with words is mostly spent trying to keep my relationships alive on text.
Optimistic people, people with solid mental health, people who can afford to say it have all said that this is the time to rediscover yourself, to find out what else you can be good at, to finish projects. But this isn’t a holiday. It isn’t even a sabbatical. In the tenth week of looking at your own face, irritation comes more easily than optimism, despite rigorously adhering to every self-help list pointer- schedule, yoga, shower, chores, hobby, even video-calls. There are times when even the most introverted individual wants to go out into the sunshine, sit down, and just look at people going about their business. To spend an hour with a person, just sitting around, not talking, music playing in the background. To not have to let a phone ring, while you stare at your own face on the screen, wondering if the other person is free to pick up. To stifle the urge to never disconnect a call, and simultaneously, never call someone because the disappointment almost doesn’t make the delight worth it. These are the kind of dark times that are like a cloudy day with a forecast of rain. If there is a storm, you barely have time to focus on much except escaping it. With the weight of clouds, all you can do is look out and wonder when it is going to hit.
All I need to write is not just time, for now, I veritably have all the time in the world. All I want is a glimpse of an unknown person who could be the next character, a smell I’ll describe as the subject of an entire poem, a touch to tide me over. Survival is not living, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Survival is making sure you’re alive, capable, and functioning when life eventually comes around. Seventy-two days of survival, and some more to go.