Even in the Darkest Places

Kerry Grundlingh

The contrast was so stark when it first happened. Entire cities were looking between the fissures of boarded-up windows and onto streets occupied only by the shadows of past memories. It was a phenomenon that was experienced on every continent: the sun set one evening and the morning light never seemed to arrive thereafter. A single space of existence cultivated a threat far worse than foreign droplets containing the virus, for in the darkness, emerged isolation. 


This isolation has been present for over a year now, and many still feel restrained by the palms of its sinister fists. The human way of life has been changed forever, but there are those who still cannot accept it. They are the ones who are consumed by memories of vivid colour and who see the present through a single, monochrome filter, and for them, the reason for existence is a most puzzling question. However, though they do not acknowledge it, isolation contains within its shadows the luminescence of time. 


Time was of limited access in the past. Though extensive, most of the human lifetime was eroded by the breath of the sighs let out during mundane activities; the average six months in a lifetime spent waiting for a red traffic light to turn green illustrates this. As a result of its high value, time was always coveted. The coronavirus pandemic was significant because, through isolation, it flooded the market of reality with the rare opportunity of time, and more specifically, time in isolation. 


Time in isolation entails the possibility of discovering purpose - if the opportunity is taken advantage of. Life purpose is a concept that is unique to every individual, and is often unclear, even in regular circumstances. In an attempt to articulate existence, purpose is often described in relation to personal happiness. With the world as it is, a sense of happiness cannot be acquired in the same way it would a few years ago. Physical barriers, in the form of fabric concealing most features of the face, and social barriers of physical distance coerce the members of the human race to wander down new paths whilst in the pursuit of happiness. These are the paths whose bricks are cemented with discovery and illuminated with the prospects of happiness, and it requires time to find the right one to follow. 


Life’s deafening volume often subdues the whispers of thoughts and emotions when deciding which path to choose, and isolation, its only equal opponent, breeds the silence required to rival. This silence highlights the early blaze of paths which harbour potential interests and passions. All that is required is to look beyond the seemingly substantial price of patience and resilience in order to see the possibilities that time in isolation can offer. 


Isolation’s palms open to show its residents a present world of fully saturated colour and guide them to a future of purpose. After all, its shadows only exist as a result of its light: composed of photons of contentment.

Kerry is a 16-year-old girl who attends St Mary’s School, Waverley. She lives with her parents, brother and two dogs in their home in Johannesburg, South Africa.