What are we having?
Questions Without Answers
Each month, Olivia Scher chooses a personal question to ask herself, discussing her ideas, thoughts and feelings about life and the world around us. In exploring a range of topics she dares herself to be brutally honest in the pursuit of insight acquired through questions without answers.
A new chapter has begun. And it’s well overdue.
This lockdown year it was especially important to find meaning, but looking back, I think I was prone to finding too much. I have held on too long and too tightly, to people, or ideas, or expectations, and it’s time to let go. Life’s variations have been put on hold for a whole year, and whilst nothing much was happening, I’ve had too many battles in my head with the wrong people, over the wrong things. In our human compulsion to find meaning where none exists, I have often been engulfed by the smallest offences, I have sustained plenty of losses and occasionally had spectacular wins.
Our options have necessarily been so few, that the mundane minutiae of daily life has expanded to become massive. What should have been barely perceptible feelings stood out in the formless void of lost days, weeks and months. Small but identifiable feelings, impossible to ignore, have been something to latch onto – providing a distorted but definite structure to set against the endless expanse of empty time.
Human beings are not designed to spend so much time inside, or online, or with the same people, or by ourselves. But we’re hard wired to create variation and find an interest, to be someone doing something, to have days that count, to reach for deeper meaning. But then again, for me at least – some days that’s all just a load of bullshit. There is no greater meaning; I’m just annoyed because you annoyed me; I’m bored because I’ve been stuck indoors for days; I’m uninspired because inspiration has only been available as a limited edition, on walks, in small scale talks, in pixels on a tiny screen.
And yet, so often I’ve been unable to access this wide-angle view, this reality-based mindset. And before I have had a chance to step back and take in the bigger picture, my brain has ascribed meaning to non-events and empty spaces. And then the feeling of dread comes along when I realise I’m merely playing a bit part in what can only be described as the world’s worst sitcom, where people have power struggles over who should load the dishwasher and who didn’t mop the floor three days ago. And maybe it’s no wonder that my perception is skewed, because that was the emotional peak of the day. And I, like you – have been so fucking tired of it.
At the start of the pandemic I wondered what I’d do, what hobbies I’d take up, or how I would resist feeling too existential. It turns out I needn’t have worried. My brain had me covered. I’ve laughed so much this year, mainly because it has been insanely hilarious to have so many thoughts and feelings about things that are just so temporary. And thankfully, finally, we’re getting the changes that we’ve held out for. Mini dramas aside, we’ve done our best to hold it together – albeit with plenty of emotional bumps and existential bruises collected en route. And luckily, I’ve not been too miserable this year. Eventually, the key for me has been to find less meaning in that which is neither here nor there.
But ultimately, I’ll never take for granted the simple pleasures again, nor will I let myself forget how hard I longed for something so simple as to walk into a pub, order a drink and meet some friends.
So, on that note, this one’s on me, what are we having?
Header image via Unsplashed