85558e23-57eb-4cda-ae3e-f23ac9b37a31I won’t pretend that Lockdown isn’t hard. We all know it is, and we all know why it is. For me, I am focussed on trying to make sure that the cracks in my mind don’t widen too much. I reflect on that, as a thin light flows into the hab that has become my cell. A weekend comes, and I am all-too-aware that it is little different from the day before.

The work routine is important, though today I rest from that. Exercise is also helping – maintaining the health of the body is also strengthening the mind. I’d like, at the end of this, to feel that when the world threw this viral curveball, I came out fitter and stronger.

Still, today it took a long time to get up from the sleep pad. It is a struggle, even if I know the cause.

I know that staying in touch with others is another key to emotional survival. Sometimes, I lay back on my couch with legs draped over the arm, and send messages over the comm. Or maybe I quietly catch up on the flow of conversation in shared chat groups. Reading, not speaking. Other times, I’ll open a live link and speak to friends and family. I mix it up, between voice-only and chatting to their face on one of the screens in the hab.

Headsets, equipment cables and wires now lie around the hab. It is messy, but it does work. I haven’t needed to buy any of the gear. It seems that, subconsciously, I have always been preparing for this future.

In the deepening quiet of of last night, I found a Lockdown party. No simple broadcast, it was a rough-and-ready event that repurposed conferencing tools for two hundred attendees, all at home. Some were in families or couples, but many others were also alone like me. We connected, shared our feeds, and could all see each other as we tried to find joy in our night. Little portals into the lives of others. Brief moments to see each other at home and as our selves.

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Over the course of four hours the hosts entertained with live music, stories, games and interpersonal communication. The guests, muted but still on camera, used a text chat to speak with each other and the hosts.

It worked. There was a sense of frantic joy as we sought to find a positive moment in Lockdown. Some, like myself, simply sat at home in their usual attire and environment, lit by the blue glow of our terminal. Others were dressed as if for for a night out, feeling the need to make an effort in makeup and dress. Some had transformed their room into a miniature club or den, complete with vivid colour and strobe lighting. It made for a diverse, eclectic and lively group.

At the end of the party, meditative and ambient music was played during a wind-down nearing 0000. Many of the attendees drew their cameras and their screens in close, leaving the feed live as they curled up in a welcoming intimacy. With lowered light and closing their eyes, they found comfort and company in distant and digital strangers, each letting their own thoughts wind down in gentle respite.

It was something I did not have expected to find, and it gave me hope that in this Lockdown there are still ways to communicated with others outside of our usual circle and share important experiences. I found my own way of enjoying that moment – never able to yield to meditation’s calm, I still paused for my own form of momentary reflection.

fdc3714a-7ecd-47b0-b83b-b6c5fb577276I know that, for many reasons, even before Lockdown I was socially isolated. Welcoming experiences like last night do help to show me that there are ways forward. There are ways to maintain hope that the future can be better than the present, and better than it was looking a month ago.

If part of me breaks, during Lockdown, maybe it can be the part that is holding me back.

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