None of us is all that keen on self-isolating or social distancing. Even the introverts among us get tired of forced isolation: it’s much more fun when we get to choose who we’re going to not interact with, right?
I think it’s time for a bit of group introspection. The one most common thread I have seen and read about in the past three or four weeks is not about how poorly Trump has done, nor how governors have done, nor even about the horrors of the disease or being a frontline worker. The most common thread I have seen is people feeling sorry for themselves for being stuck in quarantine.
I have to say that it doesn’t make a bit of sense for any of us to waste our life away just because we are stuck in our house/apartment. Folks, millions of others are in similar situations with us. Millions of folks have BEEN in our situations over the last several thousand years — confined, unable to do what they wanted, trying to fill the time with something, anything, and keep from going mad. But what we are enduring is a lot better than being locked away in a dungeon in some medieval castle. It’s a lot better than being besieged by infidels, and stuck within the walls of a city. We may not be able to go to restaurants or attend concerts but by golly we have life a whole lot better than the vast majority of humans in our species history. And yet we have to moan and complain.
I’m not going to say that finding good ways of filling our quarantine time is easy. God knows I have struggled in my own home, and with my own thoughts, and wanting to both be productive, and helpful, and yet to conserve resources.
Which brings me to another quandry. For all the talk about how unpleasant it is in quarantine, I’m not actually seeing people talking about the things they are having to do without. Or having to economize, or scrimp and save. I’m sure some of that is the group of people I have contact with — and if I were in other social circles I might be more aware of people struggling to survive — but the fact of the matter is I’m not, and the people around me see to be getting along famously. I see about half of my neighbors heading off to work. That is to say the ones I can see coming and going. Where we live we don’t actually have line-of-sight for many of our neighbors and spending most of our time indoors it’s hard to judge anything accurately from inside a small bubble.
I’m sure that a number of those 22 million americans who lost jobs are actually hard pressed for groceries and such but I don’t know any of them. And that fact does not mitigate against the fact that people I know are still plodding along as best they can.
In times past humans found ways to create art, to write literature, to think great thoughts and invent new worlds. We can do those things too, if only we stop obsessing about ourselves and look with wonder at the world around us.
How I use the seconds, and minutes, and hours today are up to me. I can moan and groan and complain about being captive in my own life. Or I can find some way to still be in the place that I must be, but to find adventure, and creativity, and excitement, and…. yes… laughter too.
It’s up to me. It’s up to you. What will we do with this time in quarantine?