Down the rabbit hole.
One of the most pervasive phrases I have heard – and used during my time of “sparkling isolation” – is the one that opens this post, all about ‘going down the rabbit hole.’ That is, of course, a reference to Lewis Carroll’s novel “Alice in Wonderland.” In the first chapter, Alice chases the White Rabbit into a hole and finds herself falling down:
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?’ she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth.from “Alice in Wonderland”
We all use the phrase to talk about getting sucked into something, usually social media. You know, “falling down the rabbit hole of Facebook” or “falling down the rabbit hole of reading comments” or “falling down the rabbit hole of Netflix.” In every case, it’s about a kind of mindless scrolling or clicking or reading that just keeps pulling us in deeper and deeper until we forget what started the process in the first place.
I use the term “mindless” with purpose here. For me, this rabbit hole phenomenon is rather like those times when you are driving and suddenly find yourself at your destination with little or no recollection of actually having driven there. It’s like you were on auto-pilot and somehow safely arrived without paying the slightest bit of attention to the road. That’s what the rabbit hole feels like to me.
I think it’s a kind of self-medication. When I am clicking from one video to another to another on YouTube – or questing for something to watch on Netflix by clicking on suggestion after suggestion – I am relieved of the need to think about anything else. I can turn off my brain and just become mindless for a while and take up time doing essentially nothing. That nothingness, that numbness, is a lovely place for me.
When I am hyperfocused on something engrossing that means I don’t have the bandwidth to focus on the things that are causing me stress – politics, quarantine, isolation, loneliness, bigotry, hatred, the utter stupidity of nearly 50% of the voting population of the USA. Numbness is a lovely, empty, gray place that doesn’t make me anxious or afraid or depressed or sad.
If you have read many of my Sparkling Isolation posts, then you know that I am fond of a good metaphor. This “Alice in Wonderland” metaphor seems apt for how I’m feeling lately. Just after she falls down that rabbit hole, she finds herself in a strange and bizarre world with rules that she simply cannot understand. That feels rather familiar to me. Just after she lands, she finds herself in a hallway:
There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked; and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.from “Alice in Wonderland”
I feel that way right now. I know there are doors (options) for me, but they all seem to be locked. I can’t travel, I can’t eat out at restaurants, I can’t go a bar, I can’t attend a live performing arts event, I can’t visit friends, I can’t have the pleasure of reviewing a restaurant and writing about it. Locked with no clear concept of how to find an open door.
Of course, I know there are always options, but at the moment I simply cannot seem to focus on them. Like Alice, I feel like a stranger suddenly landing in a bizarre world with rules I cannot understand and only my intuition to guide me. Like Alice, after falling down whatever rabbit hole has brought me to this point, I feel like I am trying to play croquet with a flamingo and a hedgehog. How the heck do I make this reality work for me right now?
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.