For many, bringing a sense of clarity is a daily struggle even before COVID-19. Now digesting and swallowing the bitter pill laced with self-quarantine, self-isolation, shelter in place: a table reservation is with one’s self—these new buzz words have replaced the more acceptable (and sadly accepted) terms of living: SOLITUDE, ISOLATION, AND LONELINESS.
Writers, all too well, are used to living in a quagmire of cubical existence. We call it creativity. How fortunate writers are: we know the rules. There is a modest concern to interact with others, whether 5 feet or a mile away: BECAUSE IT’S THE WRITING THAT MATTERS. But, I think it’s all changed—not our creativity (that’s our DNA), but the way we now view our solitude, loneliness, and isolation. For example, to season our creativity with the world outside, no longer can we pop into the store and buy what we want (not what we need), or plug into our favorite coffee house and write, visit the library or neighborhood bookstore, or walk outside for inspiration. We, writers, the creators of works in progress, are now mandatorily stuck inside—our freedom and hope for a glimpse of normalcy—sooner than later—balances on a feather.
As I ponder rationalizing what is now, I began reconsidering new ways of approaching each day of this self-quarantine. Yes, I will continue to write as if tomorrow will be sunny, and the freedoms I took for granted—at my discretion, like taking a walk to clean out the airwaves inside my brain, will once again be my routine. Yet, the way of normalcy is interrupted and clouded by the news. Our morality is mudded by the unforeseen—a multitude of deaths and infections, because of COVID-19.
I think immortality isn’t just something Dracula needed. It’s what we subjectively want and hope, moving towards in our twilight years. After all, we desire accomplishment before our last breath.
Writers will emerge as different people. In the future, we will crave the proximity of another person (and not necessarily another writer) like our neighbors, or a family member and friend we haven’t spoken to in years. I can say, reaching out to more people via the phone, or having Skype calls are my new normal. Sadly, I waited too long, living in my cubical-isolation: two people I knew, died months ago. . . and I didn’t know until I called a friend to get contact information. Dumfounded and lost for words, I have grieved because our last meeting was years ago. Who is to blame, or does it even matter now? It’s a question I will ponder a long time.
Finding a new normal isn’t hard. Although dealing with the boredom is another personal challenge and not consuming all the food you’ve stocked. And if you have children—keeping them engaged. And if you have a mate, well good luck with that one, if arguments are a part of your normalcy! It’s a matter of re-tooling your mind. Mine, to name a few, is listening to more music, NO MORE THAN 30 minutes a day of toxic news, reading books (and giving reviews) I’ve had on my list for months, and watching more comedy… don’t laugh, but Laurel and Hardy are best! Conversing on the phone is a new novelty, hearing another voice instead of voicemail. Maybe everyone is on the same wave because now conversations are long, funny, and quite supportive—like “How are you? Are you safe? What’s happening with you?” Concerns have meant much because I live in the northwest part of the country. I smile. There’s validation for our expensive phones!
Nothing can change the days lost when silent socializing wasn’t the norm. Home, for better or worse, is our partner. We share life, death, bewilderment in a leveled playing field.
It’s essential to stay connected and know what is precisely going on outside our homes. We are not divided by ocean, stateliness, or borders…. but connected as humans.
“We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burdens.” Osage Indian Proverb