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Got up this morning to find that yesterday’s snow is all gone. Still cold and breezy out, and I’ve got some kindling to cut and dry later for our wood burning stove in the front room for when the central heating needs a bit of help. I try to keep busy.

On the topic of keeping occupied, that’s the last but one jigsaw finished. A 1000 piece rendering of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting ‘starry night‘. As jigsaws go it rates a ‘Pretty fiendish’ on the scale of difficulty. Took me five days. The Yin and Yang swirls in the middle were the most difficult to make sense of. Rather like the chaos of life.

A thought about life slunk into my hindbrain while I was making the coffee this morning. It was about how much we as humans need stories. Not only that, but how we need to be involved in those stories. How we need to create our own tales, not just about what we saw on TV, but what we’ve experienced in our own lives. From discussing what happened at the weekend to a bit of gossip, or the book we’ve just read, we need to share our personal stories to confirm to ourselves that we are not alone. To confirm to ourselves that we still have all our marbles. We need to communicate.

To enlarge; we need to communicate face to face. Because I’ve noticed that when I hear someone telling their story, I’m not so much focussed on the what as the how. Because the what is just the narrative, but the how lets us know about the person telling the tale. Are they being less than honest or are they just being entertaining? Some people are good at joke telling and making others smile, others, with exactly the same words, can relay an entirely different message. Our styles of communication alters meaning. A sidelong meaning glance and twitch of the mouth can fill a million gaps between sentences, but we do need to see all these micro-expressions up close and personal. And it is an emotional need.

Not only that but we as humans need physical contact, even a simple handshake, which can tell you a thousand details about someone else in less than two seconds. About what kind of person they are and their level of sincerity. Handshakes convey a litany of mood and emotion. A hug volumes more.

Deprive people of that contact and they lose touch, not only with other people, but with their own inner selves. People get broken. Without touch we lose our will, our impetus. It’s why solitary confinement can break even a moderately strong willed person. We as humans are not designed to live in our own heads all the time.

This is why we need the lockdowns to end now, whatever the risk of disease (Even if it is minimal). These repeated lockdowns are stripping us of our humanity, damaging our sense of commonality, of our shared experience and turning us into isolated screaming online mobs.

What we are seeing is that lockdowns encourage hate and division, increase civil disunity. They make it easy for certain people to be manipulated and others marginalised. Which is why Twatter and Farcebook can be such toxic environments. Isolation is not good for us. Even me, and I’m used to long periods of working alone. But at the end of a working week I still need to go wandering down a crowded street or walk into a pub, even if I end up drinking on my own.

On the topic of risk, for those who want a clearer picture of the current statistics, you could do worse than read this article.