By Troy Headrick

I want to start with a confession.  Lately, I’ve been suffering from a touch of writer’s block.  So, much to my delight, while I was just sitting in front of my laptop, the following blog began to take shape in my mind. 

I’m in my bedroom, “at work.”  It’s Monday, 1:03 p.m., February 1, 2021.  In approximately six weeks, I will have been working remotely for a full year.

A few minutes ago, the weirdest thing happened.  I was looking at the lovely patterns of light forming on the walls and curtains, created by bright sunshine pouring through the partly opened blinds, and then I asked myself, out loud, “Is any of this real?”

The question was prompted by something approximating an out-of-body experience.  It was like I was able to see things perfectly clearly, and everything around me suddenly made absolute sense.  There was a rare moment of mental clarity that nearly took my breath away. 

I haven’t physically stepped into my workplace since March of 2020.  I rarely see anyone other than my wife.  I DO SEE tiny people’s faces—sometimes less pixelated, sometimes more—looking out of computer screens toward me.  I Skype.  I Zoom.  I respond to emails.  I do these things while wearing a “business casual” shirt, up top, and running shorts, down below.  I haven’t shaved in five days.

In such a situation, it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t.  I mean I’m at work but I’m sitting in the place where I sleep.  No one is currently around, but I’m connected to everyone and anyone via the internet.  I’m waiting for something to happen on my computer.  Hello, is anyone out there?  If I turned on my Zoom mic, it’s likely someone would answer, but I won’t do that because there’s no meeting on the schedule for this time and whoever heard me would just think I was being weird or losing it.  Like I asked earlier, is any of this real?  Does any of this make sense?

I guess I can decide for myself what’s real and what isn’t.  When I go back to “the real world” after everyone gets his or her shot (or two), I’ll look at things a little more wisely.  I won’t be so naïve.  (I’m totally embarrassed by how silly I used to be, and I can actually feel myself blush.)  I’ll decide for myself what I want to pay attention to and what I want to blow off.  If there’s no really reality, then nothing really matters.  Right?

I will no longer give a shit or sweat the small stuff.  Hell, it’s all small stuff. 

I suddenly feel very powerful but really calm.  Yep, I’ll be a different kind of guy when all this is over.  I may go ahead and start being a different kind of guy right now.  Why not?

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.

38 thoughts on “Illusion

  1. These are indeed interesting times. I find myself asking the now all-too familiar question: Do I work from home or do I live at work?😂

    Once we get this pandemic under control, we shall definitely see the world differently.

    It’s always a pleasure reading from you, Troy!

    1. I definitely don’t want to live at work. The alternative sounds so much better. I just have the feeling that this pandemic has helped trigger some form of awakening among many. I know this has been true from me. There are days, though, when I have trouble getting past the surreal nature of this current situation. See “Spiritualfantasia’s” comment below. she really gets what I was trying to say. In fact, she made my point better than i could make it. Thanks so much for the kinds words.

    1. I used to have more of those “aha” moments. I know this. When I have one of them now, i know that I better pay attention. Thanks so much for your kinds words.

      1. Hi. Thanks for following. I found your blog too and became a follower. At first, I had trouble following, but I think my request finally worked. By the way, I lived in Africa for seven years and hope I get the chance to see more of the continent in the coming years. Take care.

  2. Ahhh philosophical idealism and perhaps solipsism strike.
    My take:
    It’s all a reflection of reality … and I will leave you with the words of the great agnostic and free will skeptic Clarence Darrow …
    Chase after the truth like all hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.

    1. I’ve been chasing after truth since I was a young man. Not only have I not touched its coat tails, I am so far behind (and thus far away from it) in my pursuit that I need bincolars to try and see it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Fascinating to see how you started looking at the wall, then thought about Zoom meetings, and at the end faced existential questions. By the way, we all wear pijamas or shorts under the tshirt 😄

    1. It’s fascinating how the mind works. One thing triggers the next which triggers the next. Our mind is able to formulate amazing associations among things that seem only tangentially related. I find it oddly comforting that so many of us spend so much time wearing pajamas and such during this odd period. Thanks for the comment.

  4. The trick for me is to act as though I am still going to work. So I shower, dress hair and make-up as if I am going out into the world. It is oh so easy to slob around and not make the effort. I find that if I let the physical slip, the mental slip is close behind. I have written more in 2021 then ever before because I am in the same place and have more time to dedicate to it. Blessings J

    1. Like you, I try to be self-disciplined. I’m capable of pulling this off but not always. I do find that this period is conducive to all manner of creative pursuits. I find that I am more creative when I’m living through some form of challenge, when I’m a bit troubled. When everything is going perfectly well and I have nothing bothering me, my creative juices can dry up. thanks so much for the kind works and I hope you continue to have a nice and creative 2021.

    1. I tell you, I’m not going back to the way I was living before COVID. Some things are going to change. (I’m the thing that’s going to change.) Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. I am wondering how much the lack of nonverbal signals and pheromones is modifying how we interact. Even things like facial expressions are minimized when online. If you happen to see someone in person, you’re standing farther away. No hugs, few handshakes, and the mask hides a lot.

    I don’t think there will be a day when all this slips behind us. COVID isn’t going to be “solved” like polio or smallpox or measles. It is closer to the common cold and mutates too fast. I imagine it will be more like influenza with new shots for new strains periodically. There will also be significant reservoirs of infection because of anti-vaccination idiocy and its ability to infect without symptoms. We may NEVER develop herd immunity.

    Very slowly restrictions will be lifted. Places that never put in strong restrictions will blow the raspberry at those that did. Some people will be anxious to return to normalcy and some people refused to leave normalcy even when they should. Others will be reluctant to do so out of fear. Still others will discover they like it better this way.

    Some people do not do well in social situations and I think they may be benefitting.

    1. I’m curious. What do you think the long-term effects will be? I very much admire your intelligence and insight, so I’d like to hear what you have to say. Thanks, by the way, for the comment.

      1. Long term changes… Fewer old people. It will keep social security solvent a little while longer.

        For historical comparison, we can look at the 1918 flu which killed many times more than COVID ever will at a time when we had less than a third of our current population. And that was right after the bloodbath and devastation of WWI. Together they killed so many young people they “lost” the generation. A few years later we had the “Roaring 20s.”

        So here are my predictions:

        Everything depends on how the herd immunity thing works out. A happy result will require reasonably effective and universal vaccination. I don’t believe it will ever go away completely but I anticipate it will become like the seasonal flu.

        There is no question that the pandemic has increased our knowledge store about infectious diseases tremendously. The next time around we’ll handle it better. Of course, within a few years public policy and popular attitudes will assume it can’t happen again and any pandemic preparation would be considered a waste of resources. Logistically, we’ll be in just as deep a hole but the knowledge will still be there. And it WILL happen again.

        Because the pest seems to preferentially kill off older people, Social Security will remain secure for my retirement. Masks may be more acceptable for wear by people feeling under the weather but I don’t imagine we’ll become like Japan in that respect. Some lucky white-collar workers will retain the option to work at home. There will be a bit more homeschooling for those who can afford it and maybe a few survivalists shouting “I told ya so!”

        Within a year, maybe less, we’ll be back to normal. Think “spike and decay” behavior. The social aspect of the human animal will not be denied. In fact, I expect quite a rebound. I suggest buying stocks that were beaten down by the epidemic yet managed to survive. When the public again perceives that it is safe to come out, those stocks will explode.

        We will NOT learn anything important about ourselves. Anything we did learn will be forgotten. Finally, we will congratulate ourselves for our courage and wisdom and fortitude.

      2. I think you’re spot on in many of your predictions. The anti-maskers trouble and puzzle me the most. They act like wearing a mask is some new invention, some new way to infringe upon their “freedom.” If they did a bit a research and checked out some photos from the great flu pandemic of 1918, they’d find plenty of pics of people wearing facial coverings then too. So, this certainly isn’t new. I guess that type just sees no value in knowing history, knowing science, general KNOWING of all types. Such people might as well be from Pluto as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know how I’d even have a conversation with such a person. I think we’d be speaking such different languages that I doubt we could even understand each other. More and more I feel like I’m becoming a curmudgeon. Certainly my rant makes me look like one. So be it. I am what I am. I always enjoy speaking with you. You seem to have figured quite a few things out.

  6. It was fun to think about the philosophical thought that if nothing is real, then I am suddenly free to do whatever the heck I want! It’s like liberation coming from chaos (deconstruction of the world as known). ⭐⭐⭐

    1. I guess I was suddenly able to see how absurd everything is. Why don’t we spend more time laughting than we do crying? Why do we take all this so seriously? We are ultimately free, when it comes right down to it, aren’t we? Thanks for the comment.

      1. Haha, I love that. Thanks for the perspective, I needed it! Life isn’t serious at all yet the game of life often seems to be played with so many rules?! We are free, in a society with so many rules! I guess we can find ways around the rules!!? 🙂

  7. The previous year has got us all into a stance of thoughts that are quite different from our conventional thoughts and the way we see things. I think it’s time for all of us to really shed the skin and change for good.
    Wonderfully written♡

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words. If you could change one thing about yourself as a result of this pandemic, what would it be? I’m terribly curious. I’m interested in how others are responding to all this.

    1. In what ways have you benefitted, do you think? I’m curious what’s going on inside of others as a result of this strange situation we all find ourselves in. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. I wonder why it is that this pandemic is affecting some people so profoundly and others not at all. In my case, the answer is simple. Because of my physical disability, my life hasn’t changed all that must, but most people aren’t in my situation. Most people are like you, who would be out and about if it wasn’t for the virus keeping you at bay. Do you feel that your world has gotten so small that it could fit into the thimble?

    1. That’s an interesting question. I think my world has shrunk down a lot (and I like it that way). Actually, due to an old sports injury, I deal with a bad knee on a regular basis. My situation probably isn’t as challenging as yours is, but I can easily imagine what you’re talking about. I’m curious. Do you see your situation as a disadvantage or is having certain limitations part of what makes you you? I ask because I think we’re all somewhat “disadvantaged” in one way or another. What do you think? By the way, thanks for leaving such a thought-provoking comment.

    1. I was just suddenly struck by how absurd everything seems right now. If everything is so hilariously weird, how can we possibly do anything but laugh and look at life with a sense of wonder? And why would we ever go back to a situation where we take things so damned seriously? I mean, come on. I’m not going back to that old way of looking at things again! I promise you that! Thanks for reading my piece.

  9. A very poignant post. We’re connected in more ways than ever with people around us via the wonders of technology. But I honestly think we can’t truly understand connection until we are *disconnected*. I am fortunate to live in a country where we can meet people in person, and I pray the world would be a place this is safe to do again very soon.

    Recently I’ve started turning my phone onto flight mode for large portions of each day. It has been a blessing not waiting for a “ding”, and I have not actually yearned for that hit of dopamine. My phone runs out of battery sometimes now and it doesn’t worry me: I let people know where I am in case they’ll need to find me.

    It’s been freeing not constantly wanting to be on all the different social media sites and I think has helped me shatter the illusion over-connectedness can paint;spreading myself too thin for the energy I have available. Instead I focus my time and energy on a fewer carefully chosen things.

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