I’ve been regularly running the country roads around our village since the lockdown of six weeks ago. Yes, it’s that long since I’ve been in Belfast as my office remains closed. Running during my lunch breaks is a dim, distant memory as I’ve embraced the rolling, rural terrain for my daily exercise. This has meant more hills to climb which I detest but know will benefit my overall fitness in the long term. I’m determined to still fit in my work trousers at the end of all this.
That’s not the only notable difference. My lunchtime work runs through the city took me past hundreds of fellow runners and office workers out for a stroll. As I navigated a route through them I was largely anonymous. The large majority of city dwellers studiously avoid eye contact with those they do not know. Encouraging nods or smiles are frowned upon and treated by most with grave suspicion. We stick to our own and never the twain shall meet.
This doesn’t happen in the country. 99% of people I pass acknowledge me with a greeting; it can be a few words, a wave or another form of greeting. Cars pass me and their drivers wave. I wave back even though I don’t know them and they probably don’t know me. It’s just politeness, common courtesy, but does wonders for fostering a sense of community in these troubled times. I don’t feel invisible, a potential threat to be avoided at all costs.
WordPress is a bit like that. When I hit the publish button and sit back I look forward to those who check in with greetings and comments. Some are regular passers by, others less so, but the huge majority are friendly, constructive and positive. In almost three years of blogging I could count on the figures of one hand how many people I’ve had issues with. It’s a friendly, supportive community, a safe place where you can express yourself in the written form.
These are lonely, confusing times. Many of us are struggling to adapt, we feel lost in the avalanche of depressing headlines. To some, the slightest interaction from a fellow human being could be all it takes to get them through another day. That human being could be you. So whether you’re walking down the street or scrolling through your timeline make time for others. We are all in this together, this pandemic has brought us all down to the same level.