All the news is about self-isolation and fear. We are living in a time of plague, the coronavirus, COVID-19. If I had to choose again, I would choose more times of deliberate isolation. Times that kept me sane and creative. Alone, I felt the world as it was in truth, not what everyone is telling me. The world is full of colors and small joys, like a bowl of oatmeal with butter and blueberries. Alone I never lack occupation. Even when I do sleep there are stories in my head. When I am in the world more, the stories are about work and relationships. Those stories are stressful; I don’t sleep well. When I spend more time alone and in quiet, the stories in my head do not keep me awake; the stories are imaginings of other worlds and other people. They walk around and I follow their stories until I wake. If I’m lucky, I can write them down when I wake up to the day. If I’m lucky, I can help those stories resolve and I feel at peace.
It is odd to some people that I choose more isolation as my life turns to the last third. Many desire to be surrounded by family, by love and contact. Oh, I live for my grandchildren, they tell me. Although I like people and have longed for love my whole life, I do not mind the solitude, the isolation. That is the knot for me to untie. The young girl who prayed for someone to love her and the old woman who dreams away the day with her stories alone. They are the same person. It is the same story. Self isolation, choosing to be alone. Solitude or isolation, alone or lonely; the difference is in my choice, my attitude.
COVID-19 isolation is no one’s first choice, even a happy isolationist. There are two reactions. One mirrors that Depression era belief that no matter how bad things are today, they can always get worse. The Walking Dead world view. The other is that things are in control and if we follow the rules of the game we can win, the Ant vs Grasshopper world view. But the rules can be complicated and certainly, it feels better to enjoy life, grasshopper. Evaluating the quality of that alone time can help. Creative solutions to the stress of isolation can help. My long crawl out of a Siberian depression taught me new rules to the game. Exercise, nature, social contact in measured doses. I’ve been using video chat to be able to see the faces of my loved ones when we talk. I’m hoping to have a dance-a-thon with my cousin for exercise. Sunshine helps depression as well as exercise. Regular work is a base element of my mental balance. If I have writing, housework, or any project scheduled, there is the motivation for the day for me. Day by day.
Things are going to get worse before they get better. There will be more and more imposed limits. Look to New York City and California’s regulations for the future of no contact regulations; there is the immediate future. There could be a Stop Everything Now (SEN) order for two weeks. The most likely is the Drag Your Feet (DYF) scenario where SEN is not implemented until death rates start to increase. Safe by Summer is another scenario where the reproduction of the virus may go down with warmer weather. DYF is most probable without popular awareness and demand. Without testing or a therapeutic solution, we are facing extended isolation. Now if you get the virus and are more than 70 years old, the statistic is a 10 percent chance of death. This is my statistic and my husband’s. So I will be in solitude for a while. Even Darryl in The Walking Dead (TWD) has projects that get him through. And a dog. In this time of world anxiety, plan for the next season of your life. It will come. Stay home if you can. Water the plants, make the music, write the story, wash the dishes. You will need the flowers, the tunes, the stories, and clean dishes when we are SBS. Remember to wash your hands.