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Is anyone out there?

May 01 2020

Pavement’s Deputy Editor Mat Amp had to self-isolate after a friend caught Covid-19. Not long after he got ill. Now recovering he’s pondering the big question – who am I if no one else is around?

Your identity – the knowledge of who you are – is forged over your entire life and it is reinforced by the numerous interactions that take place day after day. The nod to your neighbour as you leave the hostel, the cyclist who shouts at you as you walk out in front of them or that chilled soul on the tube who flashes you a genuine smile.

There are also the practical relationships that are part of survival. This might be people at work, the mates you go shoplifting with or the dealers you score off, and if you’re lucky there may be deeper relationships with kids, friends or lovers.

Every look, glance and word are part of the process through which we tell ourselves who we are. This is particularly true in recovery, at least it has been for me, as the struggle to rebuild my identity has developed.

It’s not just the work at Groundswell that keeps me busy or doing my thing with the Pavement mag, it’s the belief in my role as a researcher and a journalist that helps me to know who I am. It gives me a purpose that makes me want to get out of bed and do shit, rather than just riding the chaos wave to Whatever Beach.

Life has been so much more balanced for me since I got clean and there’s no burning pyrotechnic desire to blow it all up… Then this shit kicked off.

Welcome to Corona World, an empty theme park of vast nothingness. There is no one on the street to engage with and those myriad interactions that make up the day and tell you who you are have vanished.

In the beginning of the lockdown I battled with a deep rooted, primal fear of having nobody to tell me who I was and what I should do. It rocked me to my core.

But then it dawned on me, there may be nobody to interact with and not a lot to do but there is also less noise, no pressure and very little of being pulled in different directions by the needs and demands of others.

And of course, this empty Corona World will soon be over, and I bet ya when it is, that there will be times when we yearn for this silence and space, the room to breathe that we rarely ever get in this modern postindustrial, high-tech world.

When all is said and done who needs other people, or a job, to define them? I love the stuff I do; I love the people I know, they’re part of my experience, but they shouldn’t tell me who I am. It’s something I should know, no matter what.

Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing right now just know that you’re not the only one. We may be on our own but we’re in this together.