We’re not going “back”, whatever they say

There’s a growing pool of ideas amassing in the collective field to do with “going back”…made up of the thoughts and emotions of all those people who think that we are (or need to be) going back to the way things were before covid; who, maybe, even quite vehemently want to go back, who even think their mental health, their income or their safety relies on it, and equally those who dread it, fear it, feel apathetic or hopeless at the very thought of turning the clocks back to just how stuck everything felt before. Because, as some of us are noticing, this year has witnessed a massive evolution in human consciousness and a huge expansion of three-dimensional awareness of “what’s going on” behind the scenes, much of which used to be tucked well out of sight but is now like a fully-exposed black comedy. People are now questioning everything and we haven’t seen the half of it yet…which then rouses even more fear and longing to go back to how things were before for those who think they feel far safer living in the status quo.

In other words, there’s a whole range of takes on this one single idea…”going back”…gathering out there in the fourth dimension and some of these will, inevitably, try to assert their sway into manifest 3D during these times of upheaval; the key being to hold onto the higher 5D perspective of how this can all…if we allow it…come back together in a far more coherent form of “wholeness” (yes, “inclusiveness” not to mention “fairness” and “transparency” and “balance”…all those things and more) than ever before. If we give it time, plus courage, plus energy, plus our highest visualisations of what is possible instead of accepting some half-baked compromise as the long-range plan, we can move into the new potential that is right at the opposite end of the see-saw to the tight little idea of returning to what feels “tried and tested”, “convenient”, “familiar” from before, yet which was also so patently “broken”, “unfair”and increasingly “obsolete”.

However, while there is uncertainty or even panic at large around this topic, some individual or bodies of people will even try to insist that we go back, that we must go back, for normalcy to resume, to establish a steady footing and to continue along some sort of linear path that they always thought was “alright”, or at least the best we could hope for in this life, before all the disruption happened. With all the full weight of their belief systems, such people really believe that things will return to the way they were before and that we will just continue as before, like we might have done after a far less global or far-reaching, universally-affecting crisis. They overlook that when we are all shaken up together, our undeniable connectivity is fully-exposed, thus we discover we share far more of our consciousness and our circumstances with everyone else than we tend to even think about for even a second in our “normal” blinkered lives; so we can’t go scurrying back to our comfortable bolt-holes and resume as though the world is all OK as long as “I” am doing alright. Believe it or not, through this crisis, we are getting somewhat closer than before to not feeling right at all while there is upheaval happening to others, which is the typical world of the sensitive person made more accessible, even unavoidable, to a lot more people; which is why so many people are feeling as though they have reached their limit. They can’t just pull the shutters down and pretend that’s not happening any more; even if they reinstate their old work routines as a distraction (which is the purpose such routines serve to a lot of people). Once our awareness starts to expand beyond such routines, there is no reeling it back in!

So, I think it must be clear by now, to anyone that is not locked up in fear-based denial, that we are not going back, we can’t go back to the way things were, even when it looks as though we are. Things have been irreversibly changed and we are on a different timeline, like it or not.

Equal to those in panic or denial, there are a growing number who, as shocking as covid has been, realise that we needed this pause, this collective shake-up and mass-questioning of what we are doing and why. Those who realise that far too much has been shaken loose, exposed, disillusioned, reinvented, even reinvigorated by this unprecedented facility for almost everyone to have just STOPPED their normal regimes for so long, which has stirred up enough new perspectives to keep us busily reinventing ourselves for a very long time to come. Going back isn’t an option…not even close…after such a rude awakening; everything is now up for questioning and the illusion that we are going to just slot back to old routines is just that…an illusion, a nervous habit, like a hand grabbing onto the familiar, while it still can.

So, with all this investment of what are some very diverse and contradictory feelings at large, it stirs up a whole range of emotions when people are summoned back to their old lives, their jobs, their desks, regardless of how different they are now feeling….some feeling like completely different people, I am hearing and noticing, to who they were a few months ago. We are all profoundly altered by this year’s events, in ways large and small but perhaps its the synchronicity of just so many people undergoing alteration at once that gives it such tidal-wave power; plus, there is a whole generation of kids and young adults who will be impacted by the interruption of their former lives and their social contact with one another, the emotional toll of that, for the rest of their lives.

As a semblance of normality seems to assert, some must feel relief, a sense that their familiar has been reinstated after some deeply unsettling months. Others would give their eye-teeth for such a return, desperate for some stability and income-flow if their circumstances have taken a hit. Yet perhaps when those who have a job waiting for them do get “back to work” in the old sense, and then they see how things have had to drastically change around routines of social distance and cleanliness, options they have left for spending their breaks, how relatively little social engagement they now get out of the work environment, how much is now off-limits and also, for many, the inevitable comparison with how much more relaxed they noticed they felt when they were able to perform these very same roles from the comfort of their home for all those months, they will realise that this version of “back” isn’t quite what they were expecting or really wanting. I suspect, many are now questioning their long-range career plans and rethinking their work-to-leisure ratios and lifetime priorities in a far more proactive way than would have happened without these circumstances catalysing them; and I know of quite a few that are. Some have been woken up from the old grind for long enough to smell the roses this year; and that’s not a scent easily forgotten!

For many, especially those who had started to allow themselves to dream of increased flexibility, more outside time when it came to daily exercise, in fact far better fitness regimes full-stop, plus more contact and engagement with their families, less time spent behind a wheel or on public transport, far less office bugs to catch, migraines, technology burnout or seasonal affective disorder symptoms, no more limp sandwiches or compensatory snacking from a vendor machine, no longer having to see overbearing bosses and colleagues “in the flesh” and, for introverts and empaths, the blessed relief from having to mingle and collaborate with other people every-single-day, the shine will very quickly wear off. There’s been a sort of collective madness, and extroversion take-over, around what work should look like for far too long and I will never forget my abject disillusionment when the harsh realities of it hit me in the face at the tender age of 21 (I had my first bout of stress-related burnout within that first year), in which circumstance I know I am far from alone; many of us have felt imprisoned and tortured by our work-lives for decades. Yet, until now, the world has soldiered on that way regardless and we have been marched along, from the earliest days of our schooling, to the tune of “greater productivity” and a fistful of other ideas that took over with the industrial revolution. For a very long time, we have all been regarded as units of productivity more so than individualised human souls but this is on the verge of changing now, at last; because it must.

My husband has been summoned back to “the office” for, thankfully only, two days a week, quite suddenly this week (when we thought this had been avoided, especially given that I continue to lead a highly sheltered life because of my preexisting health issues) but there it is…he is suddenly called back in, no discussions to be had. Yet there seems to be no solid grounding for the decision of it, except a trivial matter of someone “needing” to be there for the post on Monday mornings (post that could so easily get diverted). It feels more like an emotional decision or a knee-jerk thing; based on a naive belief that if only things could be enacted as though the clocks had been wound back to pre-February, others in that office would start to feel better (irony being that he himself has never been happier than during these months working from home). I suspect its also due to the deeply ingrained belief system that work, necessarily, “has” to take place in “an office”; that this is the only way that humans are truly capable of being productive; which, of course, has been proven to be nonsense in such a lot of cases this year.

This is a faulty but previously dominant “masculine” belief that will only ever go kicking and screaming to its demise, even though more than half the world must have been disillusioned of its truth in recent months. Its one I first took on three decades ago, when I first set up my own innovative (at the time) business offering a whole range of business support services from home; a concept that was met with such deep suspicion by the majority of larger businesses that I appealed to, and which could have greatly benefited from what I had to offer (logistically and financially), even though I was often praised for the high standards I delivered to those prepared to give me a try. This meant that my work was often unpredictable, scanty and hard to come by, or they would try to wheedle from me the same kind of terms as an employee, without the salary or benefits (such as expecting 9 to 5 and wanting me to come into their office, which I would then succumb to when times were especially hard as they had me over a barrel, especially when I became a single parent). Something always seemed to bother the people that I worked for about the fact that they didn’t get to stand over my desk and watch me do the work that I invoiced for, which made it an uphill battle for the 12 gruelling years that I endeavoured to make the concept work. Control-freakishness, and lack of trust, on the part of managers was a big part of it and that seems to continue today. I always imagined that, by 2020, we would all have moved a lot further into the territory of home-based working practices than we have but I guess it has taken a pandemic to shake up the foundations of the old “establishment” and its fixed ideas.

So, it seems to be more on a “matter of principle” than any sound reasoning that my husband is called back in; the kind of principle that seems to emanate from some dusty old rule book of what so-called normalcy should look like and which, for now, wishes to reassert itself. After all, this is the way things always are when some tender new beginning is starting to take root and assert itself…the old ways will always rise up and become more dogmatic, more bullish, much more self-righteous and far less open to reason or discussion, at least for a while; which is where we are at now, across the board of life.

In fact, many people will feel all at sea without such principles to grip onto, even through recent months have highlighted just how empty so many of them are.

In our case, the reality is that the last few months have demonstrated that my husband can more than amply conduct all aspects of his business from home; perhaps even better than before, without the need to push through congested early morning traffic or even change locations when he is in the flow with his work. Its a fact (not unimportant) that he has found that he enjoys it all so much more when he works this way, which feels more creative, much more inspired, yes more “feminine” in that it most closely resembles water moving with ease around stones on the river bed, not rigid and crashing head-on into obstacles as before. This has given a timely boost to his work morale, which might otherwise be lacking as he approaches the end of his second decade in the same profession. Those very same tasks which often used to feel heavy and irksome have taken on an all-new organic quality; now, far less hemmed-in by ritual and formality, which has led to new inventiveness and certainly an increase of level of “vibe” when dealing with clients, who seem to love having Teams meetings without having to leave their homes and the ability to schedule chats at relatively short notice (and with far less pomp and circumstance than arranging a be-suited appointment). It’s enabled him to go much deeper into the service aspect of what he does, “helping people”, which is what he really loves (in fact, he completed a two-week training course to expand that very skillset during the lockdown period). Everyone’s mood is on the up when he works like this, in the spirit of win-win (which is surely one of the foundation stones of our brave new world) and, though he puts in the same hours, sometimes more due to having no travel requirements and because its easier now to stay at his desk until a task is done, he is also less tired, certainly less restless or prone to tossing and turning at nights. More relaxed clothing, or the ability to enjoy lunch breaks with a loved one, instead of pacing around alone in the streets of some town, can also do that to a person; and the long-range effects of such shifts in behaviour, on our health, can’t be underestimated…you could simply call it “enhanced quality of life”. All in, he felt like he had found his working Nirvana and there was no reason for it not to continue on a full-time basis.

But, today, he has had to put on trousers for the first time in months, leave in all the traffic and march into “the office”, to walk straight over to his own secluded corner office at the far end of that space and resume what he could have started almost an hour earlier if he had stayed here. He will consume the drinks and snacks he has prepared at home to avoid the kitchen…avoid all the communal areas….speak to his colleague probably far less than if they had had one of their Teams meetings…pack up his things and come home again. And repeat: two times per week. Along with all the inherent stress of commuting in perpetually heavy traffic, avoiding contact with people, transporting food, wearing masks, washing hands, using up petrol that (for five months) we were able to completely scrub from our budget, polluting the planet, adding wear and tear to his car…the list goes on. There will be no face-to-face meetings and, at best, shout conversations between doorways as each employee is to keep to their space and, to protect me, he certainly will be doing; so the exercise is pointless and yet it has been requested in the name of “normalcy”.

We’ve both had a range of emotions go though us since this came up; frustration, incredulity, disbelief, sadness, anger, yes temporary loss of equilibrium and joy and a sense of having lost the ability to steer our own ship after months of feeling uniquely in the driver’s seat, but we’re taking the observer position as best we can and mostly noticing how it makes us feel stronger in our intention to pursue our envisioned work-life balance up ahead. We’ve tried to remain non-judgemental and hold space for deeper understanding of motives, leaving room for other people’s unknown perspectives, which may be far different to our own or fuelled by fears we have no knowledge of, since we are all going through our own particular version of upheaval right now, which has a habit of throwing our “woundedness” to the surface. These times, even with all their inherent frustrations and set-backs, have only made us all so much stronger and much more authentically “who we truly are” than we were a few months back and we all get to see that, when we pull back to take stock…which some may not have had the opportunity or space, or even the nerve, to do as yet and so they resort to keeping busy, in the old ways. There has been next to no room for faking what we are each “about” under such pressure as we have collectively had for months; we have been forced against the mirror glass like never before and we will all take a good hard look at that when we get the right moment to do so in our individualised lives; so, I expect the next two to three years to be quite interesting as potentially more and more people get real and shrug off ancient habits, old ideas and numerous distractions. For now, we may have to do what we have to do to get by but, for us, we have seen what we are about and there is no thought of surrendering to the same old status quo in the context of this or any other aspect of life that has been shaken up and reviewed; we are just biding our time to make small and then much larger evolutions.

Of course, I miss my husband just being here when he’s at that other place, even though we kept to our own spaces during the working day apart from tea breaks and lunch times…yet the house feels completely different without him upstairs in his office and we both woke with that “Monday morning” knot in our stomachs, though its Thursday, and even after all this time without it (amazing how ingrained that feeling is). I dread that he may bring some of that “office” vibe back with him, into our house, which often seemed to me, the synesthete sensitive, like a grey cloud hovering over his energy field that took quite a while to disperse on his homecomings and which would build up like a thick smog on Sunday evenings. I used to think I relished my times all alone, up to ten hours a day five days a week, but this last few months have also woken something new in me too…being the first time in my life I had ever been with someone so intensively and intimately, because that’s what we are in the same space, even without words. I now realise that I am happier when I have someone with me than when I don’t and also find I am so much healthier without that intensity of innerness and isolation, which only ever exacerbated my health issues, my sensitivities, plus my extreme introversion and need for a quiet life, all of which direct me towards spending “too much time in my head” and out of my body and so I can go too far into it and become ungrounded. Half a year in, I was starting to feel more grounded in my physical body and more trusting of life; a major step in my healing process, so its hard not to feel that’s been disrupted. Together, we had found a new balance that worked from all angles…and we are only more determined that this is where we are headed, that we want more of it, that we can make this our new normal!

As I started off with, not all people will react like this to the return to office-based work, of course, but a great many will and I am hearing about so many of them in the forums I take part in, many of which attract sensitives, empaths, introverts, people who are highly self-motivated, self-contained in their habits, not needing to be energised by contact with other people or by drama, and who prefer to work alone, thriving most of all in the home-spaces they have created to meet the needs of their particular traits (none of which is “wrong”; there are a great many people like this and its time we were spoken for). For us, these months have marked a massive turning point and a show of just what is possible if the world could only be less extroversion-centric, far less teams-oriented and much more focused on the particular and unique ways that certain individuals prefer to live, work and create in order to get the very best out of their potential. The world never needed those people more!

And no, the world won’t be going back, whatever anyone says. The dam was broken and far too much water has now flown through the breach, so the current is only growing stronger and more compelling for those of us who’s heart-longing is for more flow; there can be no more stemming of that tide, it has been artificially held back by the wiles of men for far too long. These sojourns “back” into what seems like the old ways are testers and attempts to grab onto the sides of familiarity; they will only ever make those of us who have tasted some alternatives and smelt some roses, these last few months, even more determined to reach for the changes and put our energies into making them happen sooner or later and, in the meantime, we can’t underestimate how far we have come in relatively short time. The next two to three years will be the telling times; because, I suspect, a great many people have planted new seeds of aspiration in the soil of life, even if they can’t yet be fully realised…those seeds will come up and pretty soon we could have a whole new bed or roses.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. A lifetime of "feeling outside" of mainstream...slowly emerging as Asperger's Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome plus a complex of co-morbid health challenges, being a confirmed Highly Sensitive Person and an INFJ personality type, not to mention born under an out of bounds moon (need I go on) fed into the creation of Living Whole; a self-exploratory blog fed by a wide angle lens tilted at "health and wellness" topics. Meanwhile, Spinning the Light is a free-for-all covering a multitude of playful and positive subjects about life in the broadest sense...written with a no-holds-barred approach. Needless to say, their subjects cross over quite often.
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8 Responses to We’re not going “back”, whatever they say

  1. cathytea says:

    I’m sorry he has to return to the office. Wishing you both the best as you move through this.

  2. Simon L says:

    Dear Helen,
    Thank you for your words and sharing your thoughts. They are inspiring and give plenty of food for thought to ponder. I stumbled upon your work a few years ago, and only yesterday re-read one of your articles where you talk about your life in March 2011 and thereafter. A lot of what you say and write about really resonates with me, in that my journey has slowed down to meet with a crossroads in my life, where I can see there are signposts but I can’t read them.
    But I do agree with you that in this time and place, we have all been given a wake up call. It is interesting that what I call an “act of nature” for want of a poor description of the virus, we have been forced to stop and take a good look at ourselves and realise that we were living an illusion. Things have changed and will continue to do so, we are evolving into the next stage, the next chapter, and all in the name of our collective consciousness expanding. A word I love is “profound” (I see you like it too) and I think this is what is happening now. What noun will be put after this adjective I don’t know yet, but there will be one. I believe the world is in need of inspiration, encouragement, and a deeper purpose, which really only comes with understanding- understanding “why” things are the way they are. As Viktor Frankl said, once you know the “why’ humans can endure almost anything, and somehow life gets easier.
    Thank you for sharing your words and your wisdom.
    Regards
    Simon

    • Helen White says:

      Simon, thank you so much for your warm words of encouragement, its so good to know that I’m far from the only one seeking the broader perspective and prepared to frame our current circumstances (even when we are swept up in the bumpy ride ourselves) with the far more optimistic label than mainstream would have it, “our collective consciousness expanding”. You know already, this is my preferred stance and I agree, it is profound (yes, a favourite word!) and by the time we know what noun or adjective to tag onto that, I feel sure we will already be sailing well into the territory of the next profound layer of this monumental shift. It helps me through everything to keep in mind “what an amazing time to be alive” and also that, at some level, I chose to be here for this very ride.

  3. Ashley says:

    Whilst I agree with much of what you write about here, it will be difficult trying to convince the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who have lost their jobs and possibly much more, that their futures are secure. Add to that the greatest challenge of all which has still to come, how to feed and accommodate the never-ending increase in the world’s population!

    • Helen White says:

      I agree, of course you are right and I’m not denying it but that’s not my angle here…my stance, the one I write and discuss from this blog (I guess, my speciality because it is my passion and thus the best I have to offer) is the broader view, the visionary one, the higher frequency “potentiated” one and the world needs that right now (we always did need visionaries, now more than ever). Nuts and bolts isnt my forte, not that I’m denying they exist and I have my own big handful of them, believe me (its been a lean year for my business, we are down to one income and have taken other “hits”), but they can be like a heavy weight bringing a topic crashing down to the ground where you are then forced to take the overwhelmed human view where you can seldom see “out” of a problem, when I am taking the fifth dimensional viewpoint here and in all my posts. If you read my other post on the differences between a 3D and 5D perspective and why we should care, it may help you grasp why this apparently small or abstract difference in perspective makes all the difference to whether we feel hopeless and overwhelmed by far too much to “fix” in the world or inspired to notice new potential taking shape all around us (like looking through the opposite end of a telescope at the same situation), like taking the over view or the “god” view, the metaphysical angle, and seeing time itself as this vast thing making coherent patterns in the sand. I’m not trying to convince anyone at the ground level that things are all OK, least of all myself. I leave those topics to other writers.

      • Ashley says:

        Thank you, Helen, as I mentioned in a reply to an earlier post, I have a great deal of catching up to do! I do seem to be having difficulty in trying to detach myself from what you call the “nuts and bolts” of life, perhaps that has something to do with being older, but I am slowly beginning to understand what Calleman calls “divinely guided anarchy”.

      • Helen White says:

        Yes, thats a good quote! We are in the washing machine of transformation, for sure…and the shadow side is being thrown up into full view (also, a lot of what we are now seeing has been around for a very long time, hidden from sight, but its not new…just exposed) but if we can just remember that what we focus on, we get more of…and our joy leads the way to what we really want, keeping it simple…one moment at a time…thats what I’m trying to do.

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