8 philosophies to help cope with isolation
In exceptional circumstances we need a philosophy, a way of thinking, that can help us hold onto our sanity and sense of perspective. Here are a few suggestions on how we can survive.
we are a miraculous, unlikely, very fragile species living in a mysteriously oxygenated corner of a vast universe. We never have been, and never will be, complete masters of our own fate. We remain at the mercy of awesome and uncontrollable forces, to which, we should submit with a measure of grace.
Let go of ideals of perfection, of un-creased lives and flawless personal trajectories. We should expect, regularly, to be taken wholly by surprise.
It is not about you: What must be kept at the forefront of our minds, is that this was not done with us in mind. We have not been singled out; we may be victims, but we were never targets.
Hold out a hand (metaphorically) to our similarly scared and confused neighbours, build stronger friendships around the blessed discovery of mutual vulnerability.
Serve: Gain relief from the knowledge of how much richer it is to serve than to be served, how better it is to give than to receive. Take a break from the gruelling search for self-fulfilment and worship at the altar of the altogether easier task; the reassurance and relief of others.
Gain peace of mind by not expecting the best outcome, but my scoping out the very worst outcome and making oneself at peace with its grimmest recesses. Drain the terror of the unknown away by examining all of its many dimensions.
Appreciate the smallest of things:
The singing of the bird, the drawings of children, the smell of freshly mowed grass and the smile on the face of a loved one.
Laugh at the absurdity of life. The perplexing, unquantified utterly bonkers nature of existence. Insist on defiant humour on the way to the gallows.
Forgive our inability to be exactly how we would wish. Not as calm, intelligence or thoughtful as we would hope. It is normal and almost expected, to be demented and struggling quite a lot of the time.
Take life one day at a time and appreciate every little thing and have a special place for modest pleasures. The smell of flowers, chocolate, a hot bath and a few dark jokes with your closest and most un-shockable friends.
We are a species that in a few hundred thousand years have managed to reach a dazzling understanding of existence, build some stupendous machines and has learned to think of itself as ‘in charge’. But at night, in the late hours, when we are alone with our thoughts, we realise we are not, really, in charge at all. Letting go of preconceived notions of complete control can free your mind of some of its worst impulses.
By Liam O'Connor