‘This is the ground floor, right?’

2 March 2021

By Ramone Whittle

Understanding is something I exhaust myself trying to find. Luring yet elusive; similar to a tough-to-catch criminal from the Sherlock Holmes series, the only clue it leaves behind is its signature ‘Mr Evasive’ on a half-eaten soggy piece of paper! As always in my pursuit of understanding, I have made one or two observations that may potentially be useful and here I am presenting them to you. Let’s go.

Let me tell you of a time (when socialising was normal) I went to a shopping outlet in Birmingham, when it still had that ‘new car smell’ excitement. I decided to visit with my then girlfriend to see what all the commotion was about; was it really worth the hype? As the visit was coming to an end, on the way back to the car I asked somebody as the doors to the elevator opened, ‘this is the ground floor, right?’ Years later during this COVID pandemic, this moment came back to my mind and I began to deconstruct it in search of anything useful.

The outlet is set up in a way that an elevator takes you from the car park into the shopping outlet and on the way back I wanted to know if the elevator needed to go another level or if I’d arrived at my destination. Base level, only up from here level, the foundation that supports my excursion level. Ground. As I thought about this, I began to apply it to my time indoors 2020-2021.

death statistics have been climbing, being superseded perhaps by the number of those living in fear of those statistics

Humans are complex. There are many variables and as days go on we discover as a species that those variables also have variables. On a micro level we can get lost in the exploration of biology, psychology, sociology, economics. On a macro level when you begin to look at astronomy and ironically quantum physics, you begin to see we are tiny people, on a tiny planet that resides in a giant 4D canvas that contains phenomena that are beyond our current level of comprehension. My point? It may be extremely ambitious, even naive of me to suggest that humans have a ‘ground level’, nevertheless nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Unfortunately, death statistics have been climbing, being superseded perhaps only by the number of those living in fear of those statistics. My intention behind this post is to offer a perspective that may empower us to regain control, not over the source of the inconvenience, but over ourselves as we face this thing head on. As a continuation of my last post, I’m here to sell the claim that love is humanity’s ground floor.

‘We are made in love, for love, to love.’ This is a quote from a pastor named Michael Todd and I have held onto it ever since I heard it. The most sustainable driving force humanity has access to is love. In the pursuit of discovery and breakthrough, it is love for mankind that causes us to share it. In the middle of injustices, it’s love that inspires a call for change. Works of art are labours of love. Laughter and joy stem from love. The concept of safety and protection stems from love. Law and order, the inception of a civilised society, these were initially built upon the foundation of love.

In the middle of injustices, it’s love that inspires a call for change.

‘But I don’t feel loved, I’ve been left on my own, I’m not loved.’ What about the person who feels something similar to this? What about the person who even agrees with what I’m saying and that’s what is contributing to their mental health spiralling out of control? ‘I need to feel loved!’ To you I would say firstly I empathise with your situation and circumstances, it’s the furthest from an ideal climate right now and a lot of changes are happening in a short space of time.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. However, I would encourage you with an insight from science; that energy isn’t destroyed, it is only transmuted. It’s changed form, but it’s still there. This is something that I was taught in school, my science teacher would tell us about the different types of energy recognised by scientists: kinetic, thermal, magnetic etc. Moving from established science to my own musings, I would argue that love can be compared to energy found in the thermal category. When people say they ‘feel’ loved or if someone says ‘I love X’, I believe they are feeling the energy that is present in the circumstance, the individual, even the object, the same way someone can feel heat.

We have become accustomed to ascribing love to particular moments: when affirming words are exchanged, time spent with X activity/person/object, deeds, when a gift is given/received, and probably the most common, touch. Perhaps you are familiar with these concepts; they are from the popular book ‘Love Languages,’ which was released in 1992 by Gary Chapman. Whether you have read the book or not, I believe these concepts underlie the assumptions we have on love in society today.

While love might feel out of reach, feelings of fear have been all around us during the pandemic. This can come from a feeling of powerlessness

With the rise of dating shows on TV we are either outraged or won over when any of these concepts are violated or adhered to. Breakfast in bed, hours looking at the stars, these things have been described as love.

I am not discrediting these things but this pandemic has put many of these things out of reach. Does that mean love isn’t accessible either? My answer is love didn’t die, it has simply been transmuted!

While love might feel out of reach, feelings of fear have been all around us during the pandemic. This can come from a feeling of powerlessness: for example, “X amount of people have died nearby, I am powerless against what is taking place, am I next?” A feeling of solitariness, being by yourself: for example, being the only person in your household to have tested positive despite following the guidelines as much as possible. And finally, a feeling of unbreakable perplexity, confusion, lack of clarity: for example, being in an environment where things are moving quickly and being aware that survival is dependent on action being taken quickly, but being unable to make a clear, informed decision.

When we are presented with these situations, we tend to respond in fear. A fear of spiders is the belief that they bring harm. Being alone and being in unfamiliar situations heightens senses to potential dangers associated with the unknown. Ultimately, fear and perceived threat are linked.

the love that was available before lockdown, the ‘ground floor’ that kept our spirits lifted, is still there

Love helps us feel protected. It can give us peace in uncertainty, soothe our hearts during periods of separation, inspire the strength to rise up and overcome any obstacle that presents itself. My challenge to you would be to look for love in places you’re not used to and I’m not solely talking romantically.

As unprecedented as these times are, by default humans desire to survive. Though we may not be able to socialise as much as we would like, seeing scientists work overtime for solutions can settle our feeling of powerlessness and lack of answers. With COVID came an increase of internet videos of people expressing themselves in the name of entertainment. This can help us deal with the feelings of loneliness because it will show you are not alone in how you feel.

In conclusion, it may feel like all hope is lost but my encouragement would be that though it is a dire time, the love that was available before lockdown, the ‘ground floor’ that kept our spirits lifted, is still there. This love is alive, doing well, and is willing to help you settle your fears.

These pieces are part of our writer in residence programme, and are the writer’s personal views.

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