Well, here we all are, enjoying various degrees of home detention. Who woulda thought, huh? It occurred to me how often we use isolation as a form of punishment. In prison, solitary confinement is about the worst fate that can befall an inmate, to the point that many psychologists consider it a form of torture that can’t be abolished quickly enough.
Naughty children are sent to their rooms, unruly toddlers are told to take a turn on the Time Out chair. As a society, Americans have historically dealt with their oddballs and miscreants by using them to tame the wilderness, an often solitary and therefore dangerous undertaking.
There’s another side to solitude, though. A peaceful, contemplative side that has been part of the monastic tradition for centuries. Any number of scientific advances have germinated in the course of a solo walk, and one of our quintessential heroic archetypes is the lone wolf. This character has become skillful and self-sufficient by adapting to his or her particular wilderness and learning its contours over a long course of careful study.
So here’s to us, the lone wolves of the family rooms and backyards.
For me, a shelter-in-place lifestyle isn’t much different from normal. I no longer go to the horse barn, which means I might leave the property once a week–to provision, bank, and pick up meds–as opposed to twice a week. I am still aware though, that things have changed–radically for many of us–and might never be quite the same again.
I’m OK, so far, and part of what sustains me is the company of my cats. They give me a concrete way to worry–Forget TP. Will the stores have cat food and kitty litter?–as opposed to leaving me prey to apocalyptic anxiety. They are soft and furry, they purr, they have their little dramas and personalities. They are company of a kind that is familiar and comforting to me.
My two-acre yard is an enormous consolation, in part because spring is marching forth right on schedule–what virus?–and in part because it’s hard to feel claustrophobic on a bucolic two-acre parcel. I can plant pansies, I can clean up the beds left over from last year. I can move rocks around in the stream–a surprisingly soothing pastime.
My work is a particularly precious delight. I play make believe for a living, and now is a great time to have a job that focuses on the transformative power of love, and the miracle of human courage. My current work in progress is Ash Dorning and Della Haddonfield’s tale, and they are both people isolated by emotional challenges. What a metaphor.
On the not-helpful side of the scorecard, I place excessive exposure to the news. We’re in a dangerous time, I get that. Age places me in the higher-risk demographic–I picked up on that detail too. Unless there’s some significant new development, I have my marching orders for the next month or so.
Keeping in touch with my family, even by silly texts, is helpful. Watching the stock market is not helpful. Bringing yard flowers into the house is helpful. Staying friends with my tread desk is helpful. Engaging with social media trolls–never very smart–is an absolute no-go now. Reading good books–exceedingly helpful!
What’s working for you? What’s making life a little harder? Any surprises or disappointments? To three commenters, I’ll send a $25 Amazon gift card, but you have to promise not spend it all on TP.