Image for The Lovely Isolation Abisko

The Lovely Isolation

One of my happiest memories is of the Nordic wilderness of Abisko, a place so remote, even my Swedish friends wondered why I was heading there.

It was in 2014 when I turned 40, and to mark the occasion, I wanted to challenge myself. I had always thought I hated the cold, so why not plunge deep into it, I thought.

And so, together with my hubby, off we went in late March to Sweden. That moment when I turned 40 is seared in my mind. Standing (precariously) on a massive frozen lake, with no one for company, save for my hubby and a moose or two, staring into the great white tundra, it… was… heaven.

I felt peace like none other, the still quietened my mind. I describe it further in my travel blog, here is the link if you’d like to read more about it.

But this post isn’t about my travel adventures.

It’s about doing the right thing and self-isolating during this period of Covid-19.

I know so many friends who are struggling with it. There are the super social souls who are craving the human interaction, missing going out with friends and family.

There are the physically active people bemoaning the reduction of sporting activities and the increase of their waistlines.

There are people who are just plain bored, like they just don’t know what to do with themselves at home.

Then there’s me. What I have increasingly noticed about myself is just how much I enjoy the isolation. I really do!

Hence the flashbacks to Abisko. The memory is always about how wonderful it felt to be so far away from everything, that peace.

Of course, that was only for an hour or so. Maybe if I had to live for months like that, I, too, might be tearing my hair apart.

But still, I have been self-isolating even before any of the more stringent measures had kicked in. So it has been months, in a way.

Because the nature of my work is very much home-based anyway, where if and when I have any marketing projects, I just do it mostly via online meetings and calls from home.

On a regular basis, the only time I step out is to exercise, grocery shop and occasionally, dine out.

Also, my interests are all cerebral. I want to continue to improve my French, my wine knowledge (best way is to drink at home, no overpriced restaurant charges to deal with!) and continue writing for my blog.

So, I am really happy to be “stuck at home”.

Many articles are out there saying that introverts are finally having their day. Extroverts are knocking their heads against the walls.

Got me thinking though, most people would say that I am an extrovert. But, does this mean that I am secretly an introvert? Ah, who cares, anyway.

Well, it doesn’t matter the labelling. I think what matters is the attitude. We need to be comfortable in our own skin. We need to be prepared to be alone.

Yes, it might sound gloomy, but it’s the best defence against what most of us surely must have felt at one point or another in our lives. Especially when we think about growing old.

I am not talking about being or feeling lonely, that is not okay.

I am talking about being okay being alone.

Having companionship whether in the form of a good TV show, a book, virtual “happy hour” calls with friends, using social media for exactly what it’s good for, these are all great tools to stay connected with people.

I don’t think that the strength of relationships built over years or new friendships that are still blossoming should weaken just because actual physical connection disappears.

In fact, with many increasingly becoming digital nomads, and the migrationary trend of people in search of new and better opportunities, we need to learn to stay connected in a new way.

My hubby just Facetimed an old friend living in San Francisco. I am speaking with my best friend from when I was 7 years old later, she has made New Jersey her home. I just got off a Whatsapp video call with another friend of mine (my ex-colleague from my days at The Straits Times) who is living in Toulouse, France.

In fact, this pandemic is making me more “social” than I normally am, because normally, I wouldn’t keep in touch with my overseas friends via emails or chats – it’s just not my jam.

My friend said it had to take a pandemic for me to finally have a call with her.

Anyway, you can either take the bull by its horns, or float around like a plastic bag.

You know all those times you wished time would slow down because you had so many things you wanted / needed to do but just couldn’t find time for?

Well, now you have it. The time you would have spent walking around outside can now be used for:

  1. Home organisation. I had a couple of nasty drawers that I need to clear. Stuffed with wires, knick knacks, I finally sorted it out. My dining table / work table was starting to look like a filing cabinet, I sorted that out too. My wardrobe is going to be next.
  2. Junk isn’t just physical, I have so much online junk! I keep fantasising about a well-organised folder and file system in my PC but of course it’s the last thing you’d want to do. But now, with Covid-19 impacting businesses everywhere, if you’re self-employed and find yourself lacking work, then why not use this time to clean up shop.
  3. Learn something. I know, I know, why is everyone talking about learning something? But WHY NOT? It is the most engaging and useful thing to do. Take this downtime to improve on something you are interested in.
  4. Plan dates for video calls. Suddenly, you have time for this, and no excuses!
  5. Compile a list of all the restaurants that are now forced to provide delivery services and make your weekly fine dining meal plan.

And the list goes on… my plan really wasn’t to give you ideas on what to do. It was just to say, count your lucky stars if you are reading this, if you have a home to feel safe in, if you have access to clean water and food, if you have all the luxuries of a modern world, because there are many for whom this is a real crisis.

If only they had a safe home to stay in as well.

So shut the f*** up, quit whinging and counting down the days, and just do your part and STAY HOME.

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