Life in Greyscale

I’ve had this post in mind for a while but I didn’t want to muddle my clumsy colour metaphor with any of the important discussions going on around race…but thoughts don’t always stay peacefully in my mind without being written down so here it is – the clumsy metaphor about my lockdown experience.

When you watch black and white films, it’s easy to believe that the actors were less real because they’re in greyscale. Everything seems less believable and not just because of the wobbliness of the sets. It’s because we are not designed to view life in shades of grey and it only feels real when we can see the colours around us. It’s why recolourised photos can be shocking sometimes – because images we’re used to seeing in black and white suddenly come to life.

But these last three months, I feel like I’ve been living life in greyscale. Nothing seems quite real and while we’re moving through the days and months, it’s a far cry from the feeling of actually living life. I look back at some of the moments in the recent past that feel like living life in technicolour and they’re all to do with being with other people. The finale of ChoirFest was one such Technicolour moment – the culmination of months of work,  300 singers joyfully throwing their hands in the air and bringing so many people together in the love of singing.

There won’t be any moments like that for a long time.

And that feels hard to handle. There won’t be any of those moments where you swim in the sea under a hot Greek sun and look around, never wanting the day to end. None of those moments where you mingle happily with friends and strangers on a dance floor, united by a song you all know from the 90s. We’ll be living life as separate units for the foreseeable future and even as things resume some appearance of normality, it’s hard to imagine a life that will be fully normal this year. Or maybe even next.

There are times where life feels like the bottom left corner of the four selfies above. Like little flashes of colour – not living life to its fullmost but days when I’ve been for a socially distanced walk with a friend or bought a coffee or seen a dog…I can almost feel like my real self. But there are still none of those intense, frame-this-forever moments on the horizon.

We’re not in the depths of despair. We’re not struggling to survive, like so many are. We are pretty lucky. But we are living life in greyscale and every social interaction we have is faint shadow of what we used to know. No hugging friends, no squishing up so that one more person can join us for coffee, no spontaneity and no adventuring…for now, at least. We’re taking a cautious approach to the guidelines and there’s probably more life we could squeeze out of the current restrictions but the social media police are always watching and it’s safer to not push the boundaries.  Besides, I know why we’re doing what we’re doing so I understand it can’t be anything different. But I don’t need to be happy about it.

Once again, this is a slightly pointless post but, in the absence of my usual romping around London, you’re being treated to a romp around my brain instead. Lucky you. I’ve never been the most introspective blogger but this pandemic has made introspective bloggers of us all. Hopefully it won’t be forever….

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