Construction time again

Asking questions, while it still makes sense

I'm watching the video for Depeche Mode's Everything Counts in which Dave Gahan dances as he sings about greed and “grabbing hands” that “grab all they can.” The video ends with a panning shot of a beach full of people. I am starting to feel rushed. The way that we talk about what is surely about to come - the packed beach, the summer, the normal, the it-will-be-over - is making me uneasy. 

I understand that we want a break and to be taken out on an adventure, to be kissed by the sun and carelessness of the summer. But I wonder if all the talk of open shops, mass events happening again and renewed accessibility of international travel is bulldozing over the conversations we could be having, privately and publicly, about what changed within. We talked about the big, tangible things: job loss, depleted savings, death and illness, depression, loneliness. I don't know about you but since this whole thing started I never asked anyone close to me: what really changed for you? What cracked open and will never be the same? What did you kick out? What is subtly sneaking its way in? Which values pushed their way to the forefront? So in the last couple of days I texted several people, straight up inquiring, as if I was conducting a study in a lab and evaluating responses. 

Before I go onto a packed beach, or to a packed event of any kind, before I am in that addicting swirl of socialization once again, I would like to have some extra construction time, as I still feel that life in general is due a rebuild. I want to intentionally think about how I want to put together the scaffold, I want to deliberately pick the tools I want to use next. So I am asking. In this time, I have been listening to Depeche Mode's album Construction Time Again and taking its theme of work very literally. The title, which became a mantra. The cover, which I stare at, over and over again, turning it into an archetype. The lyrics, which I approach with the exhilarating energy of a teenager bored at school, writing them out in the margins of my notebook, thinking, yeah, this band gets me! It’s refreshing. I am dropping the facade (pun intended).

It was a little weird to text my friends like that, directly asking something I would otherwise leave for the third glass of wine kind of conversation on a Friday night. But now I am no longer cynical about wanting to know and engage directly with how others feel. No time for pretense and for dancing around issues slowly. I hope that if the New Normal, the Reboot 2.0, The Packed Beach, or however you want to call it happens, we get there by asking the right questions, noting the answers, constructing. Like Gahan sings, there's no turning back.

The inventory

This week, some ideas from the “poll” on personal Covid-fuelled changes, obviously taken out of context.

  1. My boredom is more important than your variable life. 

  2. Being involved in other people's lives can pass the point of genuine interest and become an addiction.

  3. Suddenly the amount of time I wasted - almost a whole decade - became apparent.

  4. I used to think my life wasn't affected at all for a long time but then understood that some of my seemingly superficial pleasures and joys left my life completely and I really miss them.

  5. I am now absolutely allergic to people moaning about not being able to travel and have fun. I don't care about going on holidays, I wish I could go home and take care of my family instead.

  6. Is it sustainable? Is it stable? 

  7. The precarious balance between wanting to be with others and understanding that I need to be myself a lot more than before. 

  8. I stopped complaining because it is of no use. Now, I'd rather not talk about what pisses me off, but think whether I can do something about it.

Consider // Are the statements above triggers or jumping-off points?