Post Covid 2021 — The State of our Friendship

Written February 28, 2024 By Peter Nathaniel Lee

I know nothing about the human brain except that I have one and that since you’re reading this, you have one too. I also know we have a heart, which is aching. The heart doesn’t understand what our brains are doing. This stream of information coming in is so weighty; burning rainforests, global pandemics, crazy elections. The mass migration of people, famines, nuclear disaster, climate emergency, the new world…. need I go on?

How do we process all of this? Can we? A cosmic moment ago we were starting fires with sticks and now all of this? Yet our brains run along like a clock, and our heartaches do the tick-tocks.

So, where is our friendship in 2021? I hear from you, as you hear from me, in the form of a video or meme screenshot that we share. Like a pair of 1950’s housewives on brick lane, we lean over our digital fence and spread the word of the latest disaster (it’s been two minutes since the last one). We both shudder, look at the sky together. We wonder why the heavens aren’t burning. You hold your hand up to catch non-existent acid rain. We shrug at the blue sky and move to our other neighbour’s fence; perhaps they haven’t heard the world is ending yet.

The odds that our next message will be a shared video monitoring the global takeover of a small cabal is high. Or from a doctor hiding in a cave where they have fled persecution at the hands of pharmaceutical pimps. Or maybe a funny meme. We’ll laugh as we see it, but our smiles will be a grimace as part of us recalls past times when we were together.

It’s not that I disagree or agree with you, indifference might be worse. But where is our ‘hello?’ Where is, ‘hey, we haven’t spoken for a while, fancy a catch-up?’

When we do, ‘catch up,’ we brush over our own lives — so dull, these aching hearts, and move immediately to the worlds ending in its ever-changing form. Our heart pumps harder as we leap into the pause of breath and grab the microphone we’re fighting for. This is my moment. This is my perfect moment to spread the latest news and share my brilliant insights about this horrendous life!

A slow clap echoes from the back of the empty audience chamber. No, not a clap. It is the sound of a heartbeat disconnected from its rhythm.

You see, a heart is like a good drummer. It can play every day until it no longer feels the music. That’s what a good heart does. But without the band. Without the guitar player, the bass, the singer vocalising what moves us the most, without the orchestra; unnecessary maybe but adds grandeur, the heart loses the rhythm. Without a listener, the heartbeat becomes a slow clap in an empty audience hall.

But we don’t notice. We’re glued to the device in our hands. We don’t feel the tug of a child beside us, asking for sustenance. We hear the crush of popcorn as we stuff our mouths, almost bite our hands in our distracted haste. We scroll on.

This is the state of our friendship in 2021. Maybe it’s time to put our phones down and get the band back together.

My heart misses playing with you.

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