I am writing this as I start two weeks of quarantine… for the second time. By the time I’m allowed out I will have been self-isolating for nearly two months, and none of it within the comfort of my own home . Earlier this week I finally made it back to the Isle of Man after weeks and weeks of meltdowns and heartache.
Since the beginning of January, I had been living and working 16,000km away in Fiji. The outbreak has meant I have had to abandon my dream conservation job, live alone in a Fijian hotel room for 2 weeks, share an Air BnB with a couple in their 60s, lose thousands of pounds over 9 different cancelled flights and make it back to England and quarantine in a tiny Air BnB near Heathrow with a (thankfully, very lovely) stranger. Finally, I was rescued by my best friend and her family and taken to their home in Lancashire before being repatriated back to the Island.
Now before I go on, 17th-century poetry isn’t usually my jam… but after months of isolation, I have had a lot of time to explore new things. I recently stumbled across a poem written in 1624 titled ‘No Man Is An Island’ by English poet and scholar John Donne. Without this turning into an English lesson, the first line of the poem reads “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main”. The poem follows the concept that no one is truly self-sufficient, and that we as humans rely on the company, comfort and interactions of others in order to thrive.
In short, as we have all recently discovered – isolation is not natural. We need to be a part of a community in order to function properly.
The difficult times we have been living through have the potential to bring out the best and the worst in people, and even though it was extremely difficult reading the comments on Manx Forums that told me it was my ‘own fault for not getting back soon enough’ and that I ‘shouldn’t be allowed back on the Island at all”’ (ok, boomers), I have also experienced so much unexpected kindness and love – not only from friends but from strangers and well-wishers who I’ve never met.
It is these little messages, the ones that take less than a minute to write out and send, that have kept me going over the last couple of months.
And so as I start my last two weeks of quarantine back on the Island, and even though I haven’t hugged my parents or friends since the beginning of January, with the help of these small, kind messages in some ways I have never felt so connected.
As someone who has spent the past two months living through social media and relying on virtual support from friends to get the interaction we as human beings need in order to thrive, I leave you with one message – it is so easy to be kind. In some ways, it has never been easier to be kind.
We have the time to be kind now. The internet has given us a superpower – to connect with each other and spread little notes of positivity to friends, family and even strangers at the speed of light. Hiding behind a keyboard doesn’t have to be a negative.
Be a keyboard warrior… but for all the right reasons.
Find strength in our temporarily disconnected world to let someone who you wouldn’t usually talk to face-to-face know you’re thinking of them. If you notice someone is having a tough time, reach out and let them know they’re not alone. Turn hiding behind your screen into a positive and realise how simple it is to show someone you care by giving someone the unexpected gift of kindness. It has never been easier nor a more important time to offer a tiny bit of comfort in the world. You never know the deep impact a small message or a click of a button is going to have on someone’s day.
In the upcoming months we are going to see people doing things and taking actions we disagree with, and whilst they may be in the wrong, you can’t control what happens- only how you decide to react to it.
The word isolation derives from the Latin word “insula”, meaning Island. No man is supposed to be isolated, and today no one has to be if we all took a little more time to spread a little more kindness.