When people ask each other “how are you?”, the response is a reflex answer of “fine, and you?”. Rarely does the question delve deeper into how the other person actually is. We ask about our news, our novelties, our gossip, work, relationships etc, but hardly does anyone actually look into how we really are; how we feel, in what mental state we are in.
This year (2020) has been hard. Almost six months have passed, and we have but a few days in which things actually progressed and we have something to show for them. Otherwise, all we have done is stayed at home, explored our neighbourhoods, developed our cooking skills, irritated the people we live with, become depressed at being alone, and wasted an obscene amount of time on Netflix and social media.
Undeniably, even doing a bare minimum – or absolutely nothing – takes a toll on our mental health. We tell each other we’re fine to believe it is true. Because if we don’t overanalyze, we won’t have to admit to ourselves that deep down we are not as great as we want to appear. We are lacking security, the freedom of movement, the capacity to make plans again, having something to look forward to, the prospect that we will get to see our loved ones again soon in a scheduled time and date without the fear of risking a new lockdown or quarantine measures being imposed on you.
We’re only as fine as we believe ourselves to be. Yet, we prefer not to talk about what is bugging us in an attempt to override it. It’s like sweeping the dust under the carpet. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Mood swings and mental breakdowns don’t necessarily need professional help to be overcome or healed. Sometimes all we really need is people around us who care enough to offer the help we don’t dare to ask for. It’s enough to know that there are friends and family there who can offer a hug, a random talk when needed, and a simple confirmation that we’re not facing things alone. Because in the end, what we all need is the sentiment that better days are coming no matter what, and the incentive to garner the patience to deal with it all.
“Love means never letting go of each other’s hand no matter what,” read the note he left her that morning.
They had spent the entire night in the park watching the stars sparkling under a full moon.
In an outpour of romance then, she had told him an observation she had, that the spaces between her fingers were created so that his could fill them.
As a child, she usually disliked when her parents or relatives or caretakers held her hand. She felt constrained, as if they were limiting her actions or her room for movement. They were holding her hand to keep her close.
But as she grew older, she began to seek the intimacy of this physical gesture. She saw more into it. That it made her feel safe and loved.
Couples hold hands to show each other off. To make each other feel secure and demonstrate that they are there for one another.
Holding hands releases oxytocin in your brains, boosting that special, romantic bond you share with your partner.
In times of need, we want someone to hold our hand. To make us feel that we are not alone. To diffuse some of their strength into us when we’re lacking it.
Harry would enter the ATM branch on the corner of the street with the best bagel-shop in the entire city center every Wednesday around midday. Silvie knew that. She had been watching him for the past couple of months. But he was not aware of it.
Silvie worked as a security guard and was responsible for monitoring all action in the ATM room from the cameras situated at every corner of it. There was rarely something suspicious going on, but it was always better to be safe than sorry. The last time something out of the ordinary occurred in that specific branch, the security guard had stepped out for a quick smoke and missed the masked man entering and dropping a smoke bomb which mystified the cameras and allowed him to blow up an ATM and run out with the cash. It took three weeks for the police to find him. And the security guard was re-assigned to another post. He still cannot forgive himself for the incident and like everyone is very thankful no-one got hurt. He now quit smoking.
Silvie, however, was much more diligent. And she didn’t smoke. On Wednesdays she would not even get up from her seat until Harry would appear. Of course she did not know his name. She didn’t know anything about him. Simple that he was elegant and charming and always came in wearing a freshly pressed suit. One time he looked up at the camera while he was waiting for an ATM to become available and Silvie blushed.
Her colleagues made fun of her. They even encouraged her to go ask him out herself. But she was more traditional. She preferred to charm him and get him to want to ask her out. So she persevered and continued to admire him through a screen.
One Wednesday though, Harry stood staring at the camera. He was looking straight at it and Silvie felt that he was looking right at her. She felt the need to fix her hair and began to feel on edge. What happened? Harry kept staring. He completed his weekly ATM ritual and before leaving the room, he once again looked back at the camera.
Silvie was baffled but simply forgot about the incident.
To Silvie’s surprise, however, just a few hours later Harry appeared right outside her glass door. Silvie almost fell off her chair and had to rub her eyes and even pinch herself to make sure she was still awake. She opened the door with a trembling hand.
“Hi, I’m Harry Woodstaff,” he said, extending a hand. Silvie shook it and in her bedazzlement managed to utter “Silvie Goldtie”.
She couldn’t help but stare into his chestnut eyes. He smiled. She blushed. She offered a drink. He politely refused. She was disappointed. She thought that would have done the trick to keep him there a bit longer.
He began to tell her that he goes to that specific ATM every Wednesday (Silvie was about to shout “I know!” but managed to suppress it). Harry continued that today as for the past two weeks he has noticed something strange about the camera that is facing the door. Silvie was alarmed. This could raise an alert. She jumped to her desk and took out a notepad and pen ready to record any irregular sign witnessed.
“You see,” said Harry, “it’s been there for quite a while now, and I didn’t pay any attention at first, but now it’s been growing and it’s actually hard to miss.”
Silvie’s eyes opened wide and her heart began to beat faster. Did someone plant something in there on purpose?
“It’s this gigantic spider,” said Harry in all naturalness. “I am not really afraid of them, but it is strange this one is there and to be honest it is a bit unnerving, so if someone could come clean it out, it would be great.”
Silvie smiled, noted down “spider” and reassured him that it would be taken care of. “Don’t worry,” she said, “it will be gone by next week when you return to the ATM”. Harry looked at her and smiled. She was either a really good and attentive listener, or a stalker. Either way though, her smile had won him over, and as he turned to leave, he said “would you like to go out for a coffee sometime?” Silvie was ecstatic. Mission accomplished. And to think she didn’t even like spiders.
There are some things you can never understand for yourself if you don’t experience them. However good or bad they may be, there are just some things you cannot fully realize unless you actually live them. The bad ones are the worse. They are experiences you never want to relive. Especially if they involve the very violation of your life. The disruption of your own personal space and living environment. And most of all the robbing of your very feeling of security. I really cannot understand what leads people to break into another person’s home and steal. However desperate a person is, resorting to such immoral measures is unethical to say the least, and just downright mean! It is disrespectful of other people’s property, of their personal space, and of their very lives. And experiencing such a thing is like leaving a scar that would take what it seems like forever to heal. If at all.
They say time heals all wounds. But for some it takes more than that. In order to restore the feeling of being safe in your own home. A privilege and a right that some – unmentionable characterization –beings stole. They not only violated a living space, but a breathing space too. The one that makes you feel secure, almost untouchable, in your own home. If material goods can always be replaced, how do you replace emotions? How do you drown out the overwhelming fear that has taken over you? How do you reinstate the feeling of protection when all you see running through your mind is that first scene you encountered on entering the violated space? When all you see running through your head is uncontrollable crime and mayhem? And how do you stop it all? Police say robberies and burglaries are occurring more often than ever now. That it is becoming a serious problem. And as usual everyone is blaming it on the global economic crisis. That it is pushing more and more people to the brink of poverty and that desperate times call for desperate measures. There are millions of people barely scraping a living. If all of them were to break loose and run around rampant in the city, can you imagine what would happen? When all that prevails is lawlessness transforming society into a gang of bandits, then it is more than obvious that something has gone terribly wrong. Batman should not have to be the only one fighting crime, for crime does exist outside Gotham too. So where are the State and the Authorities in all of this? That are supposed to protect their citizens at all costs? That are supposed to provide the safety and security that people long for when living in a contemporary democracy? When they vow to abide to the rule of law and order? When all they do is talk about how citizens’ rights will be protected and criminals will be brought to justice? So where are they? And why is all this talk never leading anywhere? People want to see results, not everlasting electoral campaigns.
Indeed it appears that at times like this the fragility of the human spirit reveals itself. But this should also be an opportunity to rise up stronger from the ashes. Like a phoenix does. Rise up bolder and stronger. For the real strength of a person is in getting up every time s/he falls. And fighting in order to maintain at least the remnants of a civilization that existing before the savagery of violation broke free. When principles, values, morals and respect were more than just words.
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Also part of Daily Prompt: Intense!