Practice vs Preach

I haven’t written for a long time.

Not because I haven’t had things to say. God, I have mountains of ideas floating around my head daily at the moment. The selfishness, the arrogance, the bureaucracy, the outright hate that is part of the way we live now. For a ranty, self-righteous writer like me, the possibilities are frankly endless.

But I haven’t been writing, because I have hit a very specific block, which is that I just cannot actually define what it is I think any more.

I feel like a motionless rock in a great crashing ocean storm, full of waves, thunder, lightening, and the occasional ship careering off into the night spilling passengers from each side as it tries to stay upright. I’m not drowning – that’s not what rocks do – but I’m very overcome, by lots of different things all at once, and I’m watching other people drown right in front of me and I’m just here, motionless.

Lovely analogy and all, but I’m not a rock, and so I should be helping. So much is going wrong in the world right now, and I have always advocated for building community, being present, caring for others – and I’m not practising that, so how dare I preach it?

There are so many other things I feel like I’m not practising as well. I feel like a walking contradiction. While my friends have had to stay completely isolated and shield themselves for months, I have been able to go out and do things, but I haven’t felt able to. I’ve been into a supermarket twice, maybe three times, since the start of the UK lockdown, and it still feels utterly terrifying. In many ways, I have shielded as much as someone with a serious condition would need to.

But I went into a pub within a week of them reopening. A pub where there was minimal social distancing and plenty of outright silly behaviour. And I didn’t love it, but I didn’t leave either.

When the UK first started experiencing the impact of Covid-19, back in February/March, I was part of the group who thought we wouldn’t choose to wear masks – the science seemed very clear then that unless the mask is medical-grade it won’t protect you or others – but now, I can’t even walk down a fairly quiet city street without my non-medical, probably useless, home-made mask. And I judge others very harshly for not wearing them, because I know if I had a condition which meant I was exempt, I just wouldn’t leave the house. I believe quite strongly that people who refuse to wear masks are selfish – despite the fact that a couple of months ago, that was the science I was sticking with as well.

I know it’s partially a cultural thing. We are brought up to believe that sticking to our guns is important, that it’s the foundation of who we are. Changing your mind is weakness. Except of course that’s ridiculous, because you should absolutely change your main if you learn new information which renders your previous stance stupid. So, now that I have determined that wearing masks is in fact a good idea, I am free to judge the people who haven’t come to my enlightened way of thinking…

A lot of this, of course, is about saturation of information. There’s so much out there that just picking and choosing which truths and which facts you’re going to believe today is a struggle. Three months ago I’d never have considered wearing a mask. Now I wear one whenever I go somewhere indoors. Except for when I’ve been to other people’s houses (as I’m allowed to do) or when people have come to my house (as they are allowed to do) – except those people haven’t been my close friends, still avoiding them of course. Naturally. Obviously. Because all of this is logical behaviour.

And why do I wear a mask everywhere (apart from some places…as discussed)? Because the government told me I should. The same government that I know categorically does not care if I die. How do I know this? Because it is demonstrated daily. But I still follow their rules, even though I know that they regularly lie for their own profit. Because I need to follow some kind of rules, because rules and guidelines and instructions and plans are what make me, personally, feel safe – and my brain is such a mish-mash of information that I can’t make those plans and guidelines for myself any more.

Such privilege, too, with all of these kind of thoughts. That I’m able to stay home, and have my partner do the shopping, or order things online. That I don’t have kids to take care of. That I’m still in a job and don’t need to get out on the streets to protest my very right to even exist.

So then I circle back into a miserable whirlpool of blame and self-loathing. Instead of doing the things I think about, I just hate myself for not doing them, and then that takes up so much time and energy that I end up exhausted and no use to anyone. And another news story breaks and the cycle starts again – I judge, I question, I look for ways to help, I don’t do them, and then I spiral. In between I sleep.

Is this going anywhere, I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, the answer is no, not really. Everything is just a bit confusing right now, and I have wanted, so badly, to write it all down, and failed so frequently to find any of the right words.

These are a few of the right words. Now, I’m off to do some of the things I have been failing to practice

  • Donating to Impact Lebanon and Beit el Baraka supporting people in Lebanon
  • Contacting some friends and colleagues I should have spoken to long before now
  • Finding out more about how I can give back locally, without leaving the house (because I need to recognise that’s a barrier for me right now)
  • Watching videos to support Black Lives Matter (something you can do for free, right now – this was the original video, and there have been issues with Youtube and their policies, but there are still a lot of video fundraisers still up)

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