Writing Challenge Day 1: Connecting in a Disconnected World


To kick off this year’s Writing Challenge, I’ll address one of the most obvious, persistent, and pervasive issues we face: we’re not together. Not as coworkers; nor as friends; and not even as families beyond those who are living in our particular “COVID bubble” (which, sadly, is now a thing we say).

I chose the topic not only because it’s an unavoidable reality, but also to highlight the theme of the Writing Challenge this year: “Accentuate the Positive.”

You see, it would be easy to focus on what’s wrong. It would be equally easy to focus on how to mitigate, “hack,” or get around the problem. But neither of those approaches is the aim in this challenge. The trick this month is for us to find the silver lining—the nugget of goodness hidden behind the obvious difficulties—and to amplify it. By accentuating the positive in each writing prompt, I hope to chart a path through the problems we face and emerge stronger and better for it.

With all of that laid out, here is my contribution to the 2020 December Writing Challenge:


It’s ironic how getting what we thought we wanted taught us how much we needed things we thought we were better off without.

Bored by idle chitchat, we wished everyone would focus on topics of global importance.

Uncomfortable with social gatherings, we craved solitude.

Overwhelmed by family obligations, we prayed for a convenient, guilt-free excuse. Distracted by constant interruptions, we bargained and even begged for work-from-home options... and so on.

It barely requires explanation the way in which those desires have been fulfilled, and the horrible, almost ironic, price we paid (and continue to pay) for it.

In the irony and horror, it’s easy to miss what was gained: unanticipated perspectives and unforeseen appreciations:

Asking “How are you?” and truly wanting to know;
...and actively listening for (and to) the response.

Making space in our day for “idle chit chat”—unassuming conversation about unimportant things;
...and cherishing the chance to put aside the burdensome weight of the world and lose ourselves in a moment of mundanity.

Reconnecting with nature and the physical world, far from crowds and spectacles;
...and rediscovering the simple miracles which continue to occur all around us.

Becoming reacquainted with quiet and solitude—either in our homes or in our heads;
...and relearning every thought need not be spoken aloud, nor every second filled with sound.

Praying without the hustle and bustle and pomp of the sanctuary and the service;
...and looking for (and even forward to) moments to connect to the Divinity both around us and inside us.

Maybe you haven’t found all of these, but I’m ready to bet you’ve experienced at least some. Now, nobody—least of all me—is implying those small sparks of light are worth the darkness currently in the world. But if you’ve experienced them, then failing to acknowledge them would make it all much sadder. Wasteful. Even tragic.

I’m inviting you to put down your mouse, close your screen, sit back for a moment, and see if (and how) those things have changed you. And then share with us in the comments below.

  • Hey I just noticed your keyboard. Please note my current setup:


    My question is how you're connecting it to modern PC equipment. Mine is the Sun 5c with a mini-DIN connector. I have carried this around with me for years as I love, Love, LOVE the responsiveness. Not super clacky like the IBM AT  keyboards, but still enough play to let me know I'm typing. BUT... I couldn't use it for the longest time.

    I finally splurged and got this adapter, and I've been so happy with it (and the keyboard) since then.


  • It's lovely to sit back and reflect on the positives that have come out of this year. One of the best things to come out of this tumultuous year has been perspective for me. With the many challenges continuing to stack throughout the year, I found myself comparing them to one another... like yeah this was bad, but is it as bad as a global pandemic? nah... I find myself looking for the silver lining in every situation where I may not have done before. I have been forced to get to know myself better by being alone A LOT. I have had the opportunity to have some truly emotionally challenging conversations with my son, which teach me as much as they do him. I have acquired more patience and understanding for myself as well as for others. I can only hope that I can hold on to this perspective and continue to use it to put more good into the world. We can all use more good.  

  • Wise words as usual, we have adapted and changed to suit our environment and the situation we find ourselves in.

    I appreciate the moments and take nothing for granted and find joy in the less complex parts of life.

    You are right about the idle chit chat, is there such a thing as idle chit chat anymore? It is all valuable now.

    I have a new appreciation of silence. Maybe life was too busy?

  • Great opening !

    For the denizens of Castle Marsh (family nickname for my home, while I am an Englishman, my home is not actually a castle!), 2020 has been a year of celebration and disappointment. 

    On the plus side, it was my wife and I's 10th wedding anniversary, and her 40th birthday (we don't talk about the number, apparently!).

    On the negative side, all the celebrations we had planned had to be cancelled. This included a "his and her's" blacksmithing weekend, where we would have forged a new set of Damascus steel wedding bands (@kmsigma would have been jelly!), as well as a four day break to Centre Parc's Winter Wonderland in Longleat Forrest.

    That said, I'm a optimist. Nobody in my family has contracted COVID, we're all healthy, and Santa already has a list of what the kids want (I have been reliably informed that his elves have already fulfilled their requests, after Santa confirmed them on the Good List..). My company has had two prosperous years on the bounce, COVID be darned!

    Stay safe and healthy this festive season, all, and wear a mask! 

  • Since the new normal, i've had 9 months of WFH.  This has come with both good and bad, good is that I am home a lot more than previously, as I work in another country to what I live.  Bad is, that i'm also home a lot more.  It's a double edged sword.  WFH sounds brilliant, but with 3 little ones around, it's often a juggling act, especially when they've been unable to attend school.

    If anything this has proven to many businesses, that having a presence in the office, or even the building isn't really required all that much, as people can and will work just as hard when in a different location.  Although this was proven in many studies of motivation (Maslow etc), perhaps now businesses will realise they are the ones that need to adapt and change.

    Will we ever return to what was before, i'm not sure we will, and the way we as a parasitic life form will continue to push the envelope, I suspect the new norm, will become our future.  We need to change as an entity to ensure the continued existence of our species, and the planet as a whole.  However whilst we're being driven by political forces with agendas suiting their own needs, we will not, and cannot maintain our existence.

Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C