We love small, quiet country roads but, because of roadworks on my chosen route, were driving on a reasonably main road through the Kentish countryside. The sun had set but the sky was not yet completely dark.
We both saw something in the road ahead and, in the darkening twilight, didn't have a true sense of scale and assumed it was a fox. As we approached we realised it was a deer, uncertain of which way to run, so I immediately braked to avoid it only for a second to crash through the hedgerow straight in front of the car.
Time did that surreal slow-motion thing which happens when the senses are suddenly, forcibly heightened, where you achieve instant, absolute clarity and perceive everything in minute detail: the thud as the deer hit the front of the car; the pressure of your foot on the brake pedal; pieces of the headlight unit flying off, briefly caught in the beam from the light they had been covering only milliseconds before; the look of panic in the deer's eyes as it bounced up on to the car bonnet, threatening to hit the windscreen, before dropping back to the road and skidding across the tarmac as though on ice; your heart hammering in your veins.
Much to our relief the deer got up and ran off albeit favouring its right rear leg - I hope it wasn't broken. I stopped at the first opportunity to assess the damage: the headlight unit smashed, front grill and bumper cracked and twisted, and the bonnet bent out of shape. What I was drawn to in my adrenaline fuelled state, however, was the deer's hairs caught in the bodywork. I couldn't see any blood so it had presumably just been pinched between joins in the metal and plastic and pulled out as momentum moved the animal away from us.
Then, as the adrenaline wore off and a degree of shock was no doubt kicking in, those same hairs were all I could see in my head - a not so subtle reminder, a finger of blame and trigger for self-imposed guilt despite it being a genuine accident.
It could have been so much worse.
For both us and the deer.
And now I can't sleep so am typing this in the hope that getting it out of my system will allow the nerves to settle and slumber to take me. I'll check the car properly in daylight tomorrow morning but, for now, there's nothing else I can do except hope the poor creature is okay.
Shops selling non-essential items are allowed to re-open from today (subject to meeting health and safety criteria such as plastic screens and enforcing social distancing) but people have already been acting as though nothing has happened.
Households can create "social bubbles" with an adult who lives on their own but groups are frequently seen together without respecting the 2 metre rule.
Seeing the large queues forming outside shops this morning is quite disheartening. Yes, some people will have specific needs but to queue for hours for something that is, by definition, non-essential indicates that some will only ever have viewed the pandemic as an inconvenience and not an opportunity to take stock.
Colin Walker nods at Julian Summerhayes lamenting the loss of “the silence of early lockdown”, although they appear to be coming at it for different reasons. Walker in effect is grimacing at how quickly people seem to have glommed on to behaving as if the pandemic is over; I’m seeing this a lot in my neighborhood at the local Safeway where the ranks of the maskless have been growing for the past week despite our zip code consistently having COVID issues (see also: Oregon’s epidemiologist is getting nervous). Summerhayes, on the other hand (who has a site design so crisp and clean I had to doubletake that it really is LiveJournal), is coming at it from a more philosphic or even asocial place; his “soul is not equipped to withstand the tyranny of another onslaught of noise, pollution and doing” — something which in my autistic sensory sensitivities I appreciate, as I’ve been trapped at home, normally quite the tranquil respite, while raucous housing construction ratchets and clangs next door.
Quiet Thoughts Colin Walker links to a post by Julian Summerhayes1 about silence:
You see, I’m missing the silence of early lockdown. No, I’m really missing it. I can’t say everything’s back to normal but as soon as I step outside, BOOM, there it is! That infernal, torrid background noise, cars everywhere (the air smells dirty) and it’s like nothing ever happened.
I can relate. I haven’t noticed the increased noise yet, but I have been enjoying much about lockdown, and the general quietness of things, especially when I sit out in the garden, is part of that. As is the cleaner air here in London. Unthinkable Thoughts But Julian goes on to say something that just seems so bizarre, so alien to me, that I can scarcely comprehend it:
But when you realise that you’re not your thoughts, notwithstanding the apparent hold they have over us, and see that they flow naturally much like my beloved River Dart and there’s nothing we can do to orientate them one way or the other, life becomes a lot easier.
Emphasis very much mine. We are not our thoughts? I can’t help but think that there’s a missing pair of words in that sentence: ‘nothing if’:
… you’re nothing if not your thoughts…
Now that makes a lot more sense to me. If we are not our thoughts, then what are we? If our thoughts are not us, then who is doing the thinking? People sometimes use phrasing like, ‘My brain told me to…’, which raises the same question: you are your brain, surely? If not, then what? We are our whole bodies, certainly, and perception and experience encompass all of our physiology, not just our brains. But the brain is the seat of consciousness, and we are conscious beings. Perhaps — just possibly — people are making a distinction between brain and mind. Maybe that would make sense for the latter formulation, but I’m not convinced that’s it. And certainly it doesn’t explain Julian’s concept of thoughts. Because whether thoughts happen in the physical organ we call brain, or the somewhat more metaphysical and amorphous mind: thoughts are what we are. In Other Heads Or so it seems to me. But I shouldn’t dismiss alternative perceptions. Over the last few months I’ve heard several conversations on podcasts, and read a couple of articles, about the different ways people’s brains/minds/psyches/consciousnesses work. There is aphantasia, which names the fact that some people do not form images in their minds. They have no ‘mind’s eye,’ in effect. Just yesterday I read an article about it and severely deficient autobiographical memory, or SDAM, which seems to be related. There has also been talk about whether or not we think in words. That can get confusing when people with different experiences discuss ‘the voice in your head.’ One will ask something like, ‘Whose voice is it?’ The answer — from my perspective — is that the voice in my head is my thoughts. That’s how I think. Hmm, except when I think in pictures, as I’m not aphantasic (aphantastic?) It’s hard to talk about these ideas in ways that someone whose experience is dramatically different will understand. And I find it surprising that we are so different. I wonder if we are just hitting the limitations of language (of English, at least). Maybe people’s experiences are not that different, but it’s just so hard to describe what goes on inside your own head in a way that is meaningful inside someone else’s head. Or not. After all, some people do hear voices in their heads which appear not to be their own. We generally categorise those people as having a mental illness, and sometimes medication changes their mental experience. And of course psychoactive drugs cause us to have experiences in our own heads that are different from our normal state, so it’s clear that thoughts and perceptions are at least partly chemical. This is all both fascinating and confusing, and I have no conclusions about it.
And fascinating to learn that someone is still using LiveJournal. Good to know. ↩
@colinwalker I’m sorry
@colinwalker Glad you made it through safely and can only hope the deer can say the same.
Friday, the end of a pretty shitty week. We had the car accident on Sunday night (the car is being taken in to get the work done today) but then our daughter's husband was sent home from work on Monday with a high temperature and feeling dizzy. By Tuesday this had gotten worse and was accompanied by a nasty rash on his lower leg. We ended up having to call an ambulance as his temperature was escalating; he was taken in to hospital on Tuesday evening and is still there. It has been diagnosed as a bad case of cellulitis but they are still conducting tests to ascertain the cause of the infection. He has been tested, and is fortunately negative, for both coronavirus and MRSA so that's good but we still don't know why this has flared up and how long he will have to stay in hospital. Not being able to visit (coronavirus restrictions) is frustrating but at least we have video calls so are able to keep in touch face-to-face of a fashion.