We are hearing a lot about social distancing at the moment. Like most countries in the world we are in the grip of the virus known as COVID-19. The latest variant of the Coronavirus strain somehow passed from animal to human and is spreading, relentlessly, across the globe.
One of the ways we can try to control the spread of infection is to establish and maintain a distance between us. The recommendation is 2 metres. This stipulation of how much space there should be between me and you reminded me of something I read about recently called The Headless Way. According to its founder, Douglas Harding, this is a means by which we are capable of seeing our real selves. His suggestion is that humans take on a different appearance, depending on the distance at which the observer is from the subject.
Generally we see each other at about the same distance as we’re are now being urged keep between us. This is how we maintain a particular, identifiable, appearance but if you were to zoom out that would alter and we would blend into our surroundings and appear to be something else entirely. Zoom out even farther and we end up looking like a planet. Alternatively if you were to zoom in you might be able to discern a patch of skin and then if you had the capability to go beyond the barrier of flesh you would see other matter until you eventually just see cells. Harding’s suggestion is that if we practice his Headless Way we can train our minds to enable us to see this hidden level right down to our very core. Incidentally, the word ‘headless’ is used because Harding also argues that as we are unable to see our own head we therefore don’t have one and the space where we have been conditioned to think our head should be is actually filled with everything in the world.
In an increasing number of the worlds population were we to zoom in to look at them on a cellular level we would see the dreaded COVID-19 at work. This particular nasty and ridiculously contagious virus gets into its victims and can cause pneumonia across their entire lungs. Normally if you get pneumonia it will affect an area of one of your lungs and as long as you can get some treatment you will more than likely survive. This broader spread of viral infection is one explanation for the unusually high mortality, or case fatality, rate (CFR) associated with the current pandemic. The impact that the disease is having across the globe, however, with the virtual shutdown of so many major cities is producing an intriguing effect on the planet. If we zoom out to satellite level we can see that the air quality in those cities is actually improving.
That is quite a contrasting view of what is going on right now. Time, of course, will introduce its own unique perspective on events of today and there will be considered discussion and thought in attempting to understand them and prevent their repeat. But that is for a future we cannot foresee.
Today we must stand apart from each other but we must also come together in our determination to fight this unseen enemy, literally, within us and without us.
At the distance prescribed we will appear the way we ‘normally’ do to one another but some of us will be far from normal inside. The air in the gap will appear to be the same but it is actually improving along with our chances of survival.
Never has the space between us been so significant and so important as it is now.