by Gordon G Kinghorn

Having just scanned the recent comments of an apparently distraught, and all-together disillusioned spouse to a former, long-standing military man, (“Retired husband driving me crazy” – January 2021) I was prompted to relay to her, in the very least, a modicum of compassionate literary support, with an added addendum tabling one’s personal interpretation of the current pandemic, and that of the mutilating disfiguration it has ravaged upon our physical and psychological framework.

What we are each enduring on a pan-global scale, is akin to wallowing in a tri-lemma of, professional, social and domestic purgatory, disagreeably fuelled with the taxing challenge of unenthusiastically coming to terms with the frailties of both ourselves - and of those who mean most to us, thus wrongfully ascertaining that our relationships and human attachments, et al, are irretrievably ebbing or sliding into meaningless obscurity or oblivion.

It is not for me to defend or scold anyone who unintentionally errs in coming to terms with the harrowing circumstances of Covid-19, those mercilessly locked-in by government-led, scientific guidelines, the same which have misshapen lifetime goals and joyous aspirations of ever seeing them claimed in the years remaining.

Alas, we have evolved into reclusive hermits of the contemporary age, forlornly entrapped in our hard-fought-for habitats, the very same domiciles which may now be taking-on the appearance of premature coffins, positioned in and around a suburban or rural necropolis, AKA, the former vibrant neighborhood or locality in which we chose to settle to comfortably embrace the years of our antiquity in pleasurable retirement fashion, a mission currently thwarted through our unremitting occupancy of eerie real estate with ‘Boot Hill’ overtones.

Hitherto, much continues to be lost to us on an hour-by-hour basis, specifically human life, the future of the generation/s to follow, plus that of our individual freedom, the latter of which has shriveled and shrunk into the once implausible category of 24/7 quarantine, with our horizons and hopes withering as if falling leaves from a moulting tree during late autumn.

Above all else, it is the long-standing cognitive costs that shall be an unimaginable burden to both sufferers and society alike, and for who knows how long? There can be little uncertainty that cerebral conflict within the minds of many across the whole age and global spectrum, amid the coarsening of their deflated spirits, makes one ponder on the sheer volume of the casualty list to be, and of those who will be rendered unable or reluctant to propel themselves towards the life they once envisaged for themselves, and that of their kin, pre-Covid.

The immeasurable proportion of those reading my lines today are no longer toddlers, we have each journeyed on an extensive and hopefully productive thoroughfare in order to acquire the material and monetary fruits of our respective labours, and over the fullness-of-time, proudly securing a mortgage-free, domestic idyll, a richly-deserved haven or habitat which unashamedly stands as our architectural laurel leaf for an actuality successfully negotiated.

Nonetheless, we have been treading pandemic water for so long that unforeseen changes and unenforced alterations to our general character have emerged as a psychotic calamity that was just waiting to strike, accentuated more so when visions of dreams are nullified further by news of mysterious and more deadly variants of the disease for us to contend with – and the easing of lockdown staying as distant as the same, iridescent supernova that we used to gaze at in the night sky when young, possibly dreaming of future accomplishments in the arms of that special someone.

Some colleagues within the educational fold have unconvincingly responded to my concerns on a whole raft of issues regarding the true-magnitude consequences of this virulent disease, largely involving; marital discord, education denial and economic ruin, “It’s obvious that these ‘things’ would emerge in the long run”, uttered one of my former colleagues the other day, unapologetically reckoning that he had quite enough on his plate, without having to fret about the unmanageable predicament endured by others.

“Things” tragically, are not that obvious, particularly when speaking, or not speaking of the unspeakable, e.g.; changes in character, vocal/audible unresponsiveness and unwillingness to contribute or participate as one previously did prior to Covid. Factors surrounding emotional and psychological instability continue to be viewed as a taboo subject for mainstream conversation and that of the stigma it attaches to its victims, what the Victorians insensitively referred to as ‘inconvenient people.’

It is therefore hugely reassuring that qualified, contemporary websites, such as ROL, serve as reputable and highly regarded platforms for those of who wish to relay and share their own experiences, be they good, bad or indifferent, and with others of similar age orientation and life experience – imparting their accounts of the toil and hardship they have faced since the genesis of these deplorable stretches of draconian, domestic detention. No one should EVER allow the confines of our now tiny mutual worlds, to deter them from reaching out to the big wide world through these electronic means.

In addition, and from a highly sensitive, personal perspective, I would strongly encourage those who are enduring the debilitating effects of unnatural confinement, to take advantage of the countless, trusted organisations that remain on standby to receive calls and emails from anyone requiring compassionate, professional advice and direction, in dealing with their particular Covid quandary.

The combination of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns have made us unwilling participants in the world’s largest psychological experiment ever, with the possibility of reducing us to shadows of our former selves, the common denominator being an uncharacteristic lack of interest or devoid of excitement for present day and future plans, seeped in prolonged bouts of anxiety, worry or fear, that which hastens loss of sleep and memory lapses, and occasionally accompanied with maudlin reaction in worst case scenarios. Increased dependency on stimulants such as prescribed medication and alcohol are too, unacceptable means to negate or briefly escape the current turmoil.

The masks which we use to cover our faces when venturing out for supplies or daily exercise are an essential accessory in our sartorial make-up, modern day, yet, it is the imaginary mask we hide behind which disguises who we really are - and what we have inexplicably become, it must be immediately removed, nothing is obvious unless it is disclosed through conversation and open discussion with those best placed to psychologically confront, and ultimately evict the uninvited, mind-abusing gremlins or squatters who have sought refuge between our left and right ears of late. A visit or telephonic consultation with your local pharmacist is by far the most beneficial, confidential and productive start point.

Our imperfections are our gifts, I’m a child of the Woodstock era and for those belonging to the same genre, they will readily concur that perfection is all really rather boring, this analysis of mine and that of its findings, is profoundly relevant and blatantly obvious to me, but possibly not to others of another generation or mindset.

In summary, some well-intentioned people fail to identify with the obvious needs of others, or choose not to through fear of personal compromise, or plain old awkwardness, all thanks to the dubious threat of being ensnared in a torturous arena of emotive ambiguity, and bereft of a trusty aide-memoire to guide them on when to listen, when to question, empathize, sympathize or to gently and sensitively advise, heu, a societal bridge too far.

Thankfully, we have moved on and now have at our disposal an abundance of professional, solicitous, free-to-use listening ears, coupled with strong pairs of hands to propel a metaphorical lifebuoy in the direction of those who wake each day and unnecessarily endure the harrowing sensation of sinking, it stops now, physically survive we indeed shall with the administration of a syringe containing life- preserving medication, but cerebrally survive we shall not, should we retreat into the dark recesses of our minds and fail to inoculate our cognitive mass with the undeniable need to communicate with others, folks just like you, just like me, wannabe survivors all – obviously!

© 3 Feb 2021 Gordon G Kinghorn


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Thank you Carol West
by: Gordon Kinghorn

Most grateful for your much-appreciated response to my recent contribution, Carol, it was extremely nice of you to take the time to do so. Please take care and keep smiling, you have much to look forward to when this dreadful, international debacle ultimately draws to a close.
My sincere best wishes to both you and yours.
Gordon K. x

I need balance
by: Carol West Chester PA

Gordon, I enjoyed reading your post. Indeed,my world has shrunk to the boundaries of my house. The vaccine hopefully will allow me to travel once again to embrace the world outside. My second shot is next week.

Reading and rereading your article Difficult Days brought home my need for balance, not confinement.

Over the cold winter months, I have let my house become my coffin. Wondering how I will end my days.

As I wrote my first reply to your comments, I thought, how ungrateful I sound. My grown children keep in contact with me, zoom meetings and zoom exercise classes.

Am I too old to appreciate that there are means to enjoy the outside world and to be socially in contact with others.

For me, it is time to climb out of my virtual coffin and reclaim the outside world. To stop sleeping during the daylight hours and to stop binge watching old tv shows during the wee hours.

Everyone does not want to go outside, to garden, to go to the movies, lunch with friends, day trips, week long cruises. That is my style of living; my sister prior to covid enjoyed the boundaries of her house and back porch. Period.

That was and is her life. I need to stop having her tell me that that should be my life also.

I realize I am 77 years of age, and my best friends over this past year have declined in abilities, and one friend now has Parkinson's confirmed. She would have that whether we had covid or not. Instead of wallowing in self-pity that my age is advancing to where I do not want to go, I need to separate what would happen anyway, to regain what I have allowed myself to lose in ability such as to walk without a walker.

Yes, Gordon this has been and remains a great psychological experiment. Book, plays, movies, peer review articles will be written for decades to come. Every age has been affected negatively.
I hope I will be a fighter for my freedom within safe health bounds.

Gordon, thank you for your posting, you have written many thoughts that were darkening my life.

I need balance, zoom, phone calls, and getting outside even just to walk around the neighborhood or local parks. To say hello to others, to pet their dogs they are walking. To get in my car and drive myself on a day trip.

Slowly, I will rise back out of my self-made ashes and reclaim my life outside the house that was chaining me inside. I need a balance of home and the outside world to make me healthy.

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