It is early morning in the West Country.
The light is grey and watery at this hour.
Midsummer has passed, but the endless murmur of time remains constant.
On my walk yesterday the fields glistened under hazy sunny skies; the silver-green of rapeseed pods weighed down with the knowledge of harvest.
Conversation flowed; an easy stream formed through years of deepening bonds.
Connections strengthened through shared times.
In lockdown, connections became the mind map to maintaining our sense of belonging.
Navigating our path through the swampy marshes of uncertainty, the puddles of fear and the burden of the unknown.
This morning my thoughts have turned to that place where new connections are made:
In the Covid era letting new people into our lives became a little complex as we found ourselves in social stasis.
The absence of physical touch – a handshake, a hug, a kiss – placing invisible barriers on the road to inclusion.
Masked and distant.
Proceed with caution.
Some months ago I made a new connection; seemingly a meeting of minds and the start of a new exchange.
A happy coincidence of shared ideas.
We spoke of the past
and acted in the present.
Fast forwarding into a seemingly natural familiarity.
One day they told me they considered themselves a closed book.
I nodded vaguely.
A torn dust jacket.
The pages yellowed.
A broken spine.
Not a yearning for privacy; rather an anxious sense of secrecy.
For a time we continued to speak.
I wanted to understand what lay behind a hastily erected unhappy façade.
My empathy ebbing
A faint hardness settling as the
Inconsistencies, sometimes no more than a hair’s breadth distortion, unravelled the thread they sought to weave.
Much has been, is being and will continue to be written about the effects the pandemic, social distancing and enforced isolation had on the wellbeing of many.
Waiting in stealth to cast an elongating shadow.
Set to stalk.
As the mandatory wearing of face covering ends
There are those who will continue to mask their soul
Those who will maintain a transactional quality to their connections.
Social science has many terms for it.
I see it first-hand in my professional life and recognise its toxicity if it enters my personal sphere.
I thought about it, browsing in a gallery recently, when a caption on a print caught my eye.
We must be careful about what we pretend to be.
As the world around us adjusts, the magic of medical science injected a small dose of hope for greater healing.
I return to the now:
A cat is curled in my lap, luxuriously warm.
A voice, followed with a smile and the smell of coffee.
I am me.
You are you.