Friday, 12 December 2008

In the meantime while the network is down...

Once in a year, there should be a day like this, when the network connection is down, email is not responding and the server switches broken. Although the telephone lines are still working right, there isn’t a single buzz all morning, as if they too are part of a conspiracy to disconnect us from the rest of the world.

This reminds me of moments when I would feel completely cut-off and isolated. At the airport boarding area, I would switch off my mobile phone well in advance of boarding time. Fellow passengers scattered loosely on the benches nearby, leaving a gap of at least one empty seat between each other. They understood, as much as I did, that there are times when people simply needed an extra space.

No familiar faces, no possibility of receiving phone calls, not even a friendly smile from the stranger when our eyes met. Isolation. Feelings of isolation took different forms on different occassions. At times, I felt delighted, as if I have finally become a worthy rebel who escaped reality by simply being uncontactable. Other times, it was destitution. I was the loneliest person on earth.

As the IT team tries to salvage the broken connections, I could do nothing but feel “trapped” inside the office. To be in a place where I should be in and not doing things that I am used to doing creates anxiety. Somewhat similar to that of a person being trapped in a place that he should not be in and doing things that he is not used to doing.

With all the time in the world we now have, our attention is redirected to those menial tasks, those which we have been too busy to attend to on all other days of the year. Housekeeping! At least something good came out of this IT glitch; the office is now spic and span.

City dwellers often complain that their paces of life are too fast and that they have no time to do this thing or that thing. What they need is probably a “day off” like this one, to take stock of their lives by doing some "housekeeping". Breakaway from routines, put work aside, disconnect from people in your network; return to nature, listen to it, smell it and immerse in solitude. For solitude has amazing healing powers; it tames the beast living inside us, allows us to dwell on past successes and failures and most importantly, forces us to be judges of our own characters. In solitude, it is often not loneliness that is most insufferable, but the reflection of your true self that is hardest to bear.

So people who are afraid of being alone are perhaps only afraid of finding out who they really are. Are you your own best friend or your worst enemy? Find out in isolation.

It helps, of course, when the network is down.

Written by John Lennon

People say we got it made
Don't they know we're so afraid?
We're afraid to be alone
Everybody got to have a home

Just a boy and a little girl
Trying to change the whole wide world
The world is just a little town
Everybody trying to put us down

I don't expect you to understand
After you've caused so much pain
But then again, you're not to blame
You're just a human, a victim of the insane

We're afraid of everyone
Afraid of the sun
The sun will never disappear
But the world may not have many years

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