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Normal transmission will not be resumed

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

some thoughts on coming out of the second (big) lockdown in Melboure, Australia

If this is your first visit, welcome, this is the place I think out loud about networks. If you’re back for another slice, here is a meditation on what covid is teaching us.

Today is Wednesday 28 October, and Melbourne is coming out of lockdown.

Normal transmission will not be resumed. Not right now. Maybe not ever, that’s as may be, but right now, Melburnians are in collective trauma, and the rest of us in regional Victoria are feeling that.

I live on the edge of Melbourne, in the Macedon Ranges, 15 minutes drive from Sunbury. I'm aware of how easy is to to get a bit snakey in regional Victoria, with Melbourne holding things back. Or to feel a bit superior. But we’ve all got friends and kin in Melbourne. We feel a bit of what it's been like for them.

It’s collective trauma, says Kate Brady, a research fellow in community resilience at Melbourne University, in The Conversation. Coming out of trauma, she says, we definitely do not need people who haven’t actually been through what they've been through saying, kind-heartedly enough: ‘I know how you feel’.

The same if we just got burnt out or flooded out or just had to shoot all our sheep.

Melanie Tait said it concisely in a tweet:

I kinda feel like anyone who has an opinion on what it's like to be Victorian right now should shut up unless they actually live in Victoria.

A collective trauma.

Covid is pushing us to be more aware of what human company is, and how it operates and what it does. Remember human company, the way it used to be, sitting at the kitchen table for a brew, arriving without a mask, dropping in? Or standing in the street catching up. Meeting to decide something, maybe to talk something difficult through, but face-to-face, with other living breathing feeling thinking human beings.

What is it, that we’ve had to forgo? That will tell us something of what's essential for our social life.

Many will no doubt leap back to normal, but more than a few of us Victorians will not. We'll be more conscious of the choices we have, and that we're making.

A lifetime ago, in June, I suggested on this blog that in preparation for when we eventually came out of lockdown, it might be smart to think about who you actually want to sit down with, and not let your schedule be squeezed dry with all the necessary business of running a life. Put nice fat slabs of time into your diary for time with the company you crave.

I didn’t realise then just how long and hard lockdown was going to be, but it still seems like good advice, to be thoughtful of the conversations I start up now. Who do I want to get together with? What do I want to talk about, think about, chew the fat on?

We've had to stay away from each other, and likely we will in the future, with further pulses of this pandemic.

But after the lockdown is the reconnect. Inviting friends over for a meal, and a walk around the home paddock. Arranging to meet up with someone.

I’ve gone a bit loopy, having mainly myself to talk to, and my partner. Conversations on the phone are a lifeline, but without having real people in front of me some of the time, those phone conversations get hollowed out. I’ve gone a bit loopy, too, having suspicion present in every human encounter outside the home. These masked faces, these muffled voices.

I have a much stronger sense of how I am held by the social spaces in which I participate. I’m looking forward to opening up those spaces, and feeling the tendrils of human beings, funny creatures that we are, winding ourselves into each other’s lives again. Making the next normal.

Ross Colliver, Organiser for CLEA

Photo credit Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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