I had to move office yesterday. Long story but I’m in the same building, but on a different floor. The good news is that, after 21 years in the organisation, I finally have my own place. I’ve arrived, an overnight success, I’m the big chief with too cooks to stir the pot. Or something. And, yet, I feel weirdly deflated and adrift. Untethered, unsettled, and not quite sure what to do with myself when I sit down and stare out of my window and across the square at the gentleman drinkers.
Part of it is being used to the hustle and bustle of an open plan office which was rarely dull and never quiet. I used to moan that, at times, I couldn’t hear myself think over the constant ringing of phones and chatter of voices. But now that I finally have the silence I once craved I find myself struggling to fill the void. It’s eerie, unnerving, and frankly quite off-putting. I feel like I’ve been shunted to one side into a broom cupboard.
I do get the occasional visitor, but I sense that even this irregular footfall will cease once the novelty value of ‘going down to see Stephen on the ground floor’ has worn thin. I will be yesterday’s news and, once out of sight and out of mind, it will be a case of ‘Oh, I wonder what happened to him?’ as I toil away in the bowels of the building. I’ll be Fox Mulder, but with no Dana Scully to brighten up the endless days.
It’s not as if I’m twiddling my thumbs. I’ve never been busier with a mountain of tasks and responsibilities to tackle. New office also necessitated a new role which I’ve attacked with some relish. In many ways, it’s my dream post yet I found myself struggling yesterday to reach the required levels of motivation and concentration. I ended up leaving for home early, even though there were still 101 things to do. I just couldn’t bring myself to face them.
The pandemic has left many of us adrift, not quite sure as to where we are or where we’re going. We’re no longer as certain as we once were, for who knows what lies around the corner now? Some of us have discovered some hard, unpalatable truths during lockdown, others have found themselves stuck in the quagmire. Fears and doubts have been multiplied beyond comprehension and the world seems a much scarier place than before.
If it’s not COVID, then it’s climate change. Danger lurks everywhere and I entirely understand when some say they want to stay at home and never go outdoors again. At least when I work from home I feel safe and protected. I know my surroundings and am anchored by a loving family. I trust them more as I trust others less. Friends have fallen by the wayside and I’ve seen the true colours of so many. Unsightly colours. I haven’t liked what I’ve seen.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve sensed it in others, it bubbles just beneath the surface now. If you look at people closely enough you can watch them crumbling before your very eyes. They are voiceless as they limp through what used to be their vibrant, glistening lives. Nobody glistens anymore, or at least that’s how it feels these days. You have to concentrate very, very hard to find the humanity now, where once it flowed in abundance.
We are all dying, but some are dead already. They still walk amongst us, but they’ve given up. The last two years have sucked them dry, bled them until there is nothing left but bleached, brittle bones. I don’t want to be like them, I want to survive and overcome. Which is why I write, I cling to these words as I cling to my hope that there are better times ahead for all of us. If not, then I no longer know what to think awaits us.