Today was my first jaunt into civilization since the public health restrictions were all but lifted in entirety. I admit to a feeling of excitement, but also of trepidation. Fifteen months in voluntary isolation has created any number of hackles upon my skin, all too easily alerted by behaviors I consider inappropriate or unhelpful.
Social distancing when it arrived I found anything but a burden, social graces have after all eased in the twenty first century to a point I find quite invasive, impertinent, infringing my personal boundaries consistently, unapologetically, making daily formalities far too intimate for my tastes.
That congregation in now permitted for individuals who are fully vaccinated makes complete sense, problem being that without a visible validation of some sort such a state is totally dependent on individual honesty, and the one thing COVID has taught us all is that humanity cannot be trusted to be frank and honest in relation to their medical condition, especially when being truthful is penalizing in some manner, however infinitesimally. For example having to still wear a face mask.
Being honest in any situation should reflect an individual’s sense of duty, personal integrity, displayed by selfless service, wholly unrewarded, unacknowledged, without request. The fact that the very word service itself has become somehow bastardized in meaning helps in way, allowing the real definition to become diluted and used easily as a mere platitude.
My reaction to this new freedom was both interesting and telling, a sense of foreboding, excitement, even a feeling of some pressure to conform to public consensus.
Fully vaccinated and wearing the appropriate wrist band to indicate such a condition I still decided to wear a face mask when initially entering our local market. Peer pressure soon had me quietly removing the offending accoutrement to try to blend more harmoniously. I found myself automatically social distancing, and practically shuddering at the too close approach of others, reactions I am certain that will remain at the forefront of my consciousness for some considerable time to come, if not permanently.
As a natural voyeur I was of course carefully studying my fellow shoppers to illicit their actions and reactions, sense of comfort or discomfort, a return to previous normalcy or perhaps some noticeable adaption of behavior. ‘Twas not at all like looking down upon an ant farm, yes there were definite patterns occurring, but not so casually performed as to suggest a restitution to previous ease. Anyone who has been connected with performance in any way will understand when I say that all the activity had the sense of a first dress rehearsal, fully costumed, but not yet sufficiently comfortable to be convincing. A good all round effort but needs a few more repetitions to be totally natural.
My personal trepidations remain, having lost much trust in humanity in general and especially those trusted with guiding and advising. I am unsure if my confidence will ever return, even if such a reconstitution would be advantageous. In hindsight a little fear could be something to be cherished.