When people ask me how I’m doing with this lock-down business, my answer is quite cheery. “I’m used to tons of time at home, and I love my solitude. I’m doing pretty well, actually!” And that’s true. Maryland has been social distancing since early March, and we have apparently succeeded in flattening the curve… so far. Governor Hogan, a cancer survivor in his sixties (and a Republican), has cautioned all and sundry that reopening will be a slow, cautious process, and the first steps are at least a month away.
It helps to know my state leadership is erring on the side of my safety, and it helps tremendously that I am one of the 25 percent of the workforce who can work at home. My stay-at-home angst is also eased by the fact that lately, I haven’t been among the forty percent of the population living paycheck to paycheck. I have lean times, but I also have family who would give me a hand if I fell ill and could not work for weeks.
Nonetheless, I’m getting a little crispy. On social media, I’m tempted to snark at both the social distancing police who delight in shaming anybody who puts a foot wrong, and those misguided souls who believe a constitution intended to balance a series of conflicting rights has morphed into a guarantee absolute freedoms. I get snappish at all the “fun quizzes” on Facebook hiding a sinister invasion of privacy agenda, though Facebook has been allowing those quizzes to invade our privacy for years.
And yet, the only thing that lock-down has changed for me, really, is that I don’t go to the horse barn twice a week. How lucky am I, to be so minimally impacted by what is an ongoing tragedy for many others? Even so…
Going to the horse barn to ride for 45 minutes means driving an hour each way through the beautiful Maryland countryside. It means interacting with people I don’t see otherwise. It means about thirty minutes of quietly hand-grazing my darling pony, phone off, nobody else around, just me, the beast, the grass, and the quiet.
So 45 minutes in the saddle turns into a long half day away from the place where I both live and work. It involves a change of scene, conversation with real human beings, relaxation, and a different physical challenge than I face anywhere else. These two outings are my big adventures for the week, my best times of contemplation, and my biggest break from a job that I sometimes do eighteen hours a day without putting on my shoes.
I suspect this lack of breathing room is part of why I have such easy access to my inner curmudgeon lately. Which brings me to my question: If you’ve had to socially distance from your frolics and detours, or the joys that feed your soul, how are you coping? How are you keeping that inner curmudgeon from taking over the whole house?