If You Didn’t Learn This Year, You Never Will

Over the course of one rather abusive year, we all grew accustomed to isolation, and with it, introspection. Most of us did, anyway. There was almost no way around it. In those early months of isolation, I imagine that the terror still had its teeth in most of us. Rightfully so, it was new, there was so much we didn’t know. Hell, I even had the foolish idea that even though I detested former President Trump, perhaps it was time to act like an adult and trust our leader. That proved wrong in short order, but perhaps it wouldn’t have been a wasted sentiment if we had an adult leader.

            I digress, the opening months of the pandemic saw us braving supermarkets and avoiding contact with strangers at all costs. But, the pandemic continued on, and spring became summer. We couldn’t continue to be afraid of the pandemic, more information was rolling in. The pandemic became something that most of us were acutely aware of, but we attempted to make the best of our newly isolated lives.

            This is all to say that once our thoughts turned from surviving the pandemic, once it became clear that rational behavior and simple precautions would carry us individually through the pandemic, our minds went inward – at least some of us.

            There has never been more of a forced opportunity for introspection than during the COVID pandemic. Left to our own devices and holed up indoors, it was nearly impossible not to take inventory of your own life, and yourself as a person. I began to identify my flaws and making changes accordingly. Similarly, I decided to publicly share my experiences as a person leaving music. That turned out to be helpful to most who read it, but infuriating to my former band, especially the singer. I would publish and write it all again, it was personal story and not an assault on anyone’s character. 

            I’ve mentioned this all before, but it remains relevant here. Through the lonely weeks and months, I began to dig through my memories, remembering my time in the band. What I was left with wasn’t a fond feeling of nostalgia, but instead a feeling of outrage. I had changed so much of myself to be in that band, cast aside so much of my own true self. I became a different, much worse person during that time. But it was inevitable, I was living the way that the singer and the rest of the band had come to live for a decade or so. I didn’t see the warning signs then, but damn did I see them when I looked back during the pandemic. We did all we could to preserve a carefully coddled lifestyle that had existed for decades before I even got into the band. I now know that I was in a situation whereby the person in charge was immensely flawed, and we had all been conditioned to feed into those flaws.

            For my writing, I lost friends, though I think if anyone in that camp were to remove themselves from the situation, they would see the mess I see. All this is to say that I learned in isolation, I dug deep. I changed what I needed to change about myself to be better for others, but more importantly, to be true to myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and I’m not left missing my former life or thinking I deserve better. But, if you came through this pandemic without introspection, if you found yourself only reaffirming the belief that you’re always right, you’re worse off than we thought.

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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