It’s Day 16 officially, but I’ve actually been self-isolating for about three weeks now.
I don’t need to remind you, I know, that things are not getting better outside my door. I wish I could.
But I don’t have a Pollyanna personality. At least not right now.
This past week did bring a certain acceptance of the state of things for me. A friend, a very talented plant person – I’ll call her Hildegard, after Hildegard of Bingen, the medieval abbess and soothsayer of plants – wrote me an email yesterday, sharing with me her way of managing the things she can control now in her life:
And I have been doing the same all along, just not broadcasting it, yet remaining mindful of the scourge out there, not denying it or the impact it is going to have. Let’s just say I am a realist. So’s my friend Hildegard.
So, about the week.
I cancelled a few doctor appointments I’d scheduled for weeks from now, and one doctor’s office called to cancel before I picked up the phone, beating me to it.
The grocery dilemma remains under control. And my discovery of Instacart gives me peace of mind, for myself and for my mother, who’s of the age to stay behind the closed doors of her own house, sealed off like an anchorite. My heart goes out to the brave people who do the shopping and delivering, because they’re out there in the thick of it. Along with all the other people just doing their jobs and making life easier and safer for the rest of us. Ditto the medical people on the frontlines, struggling to stay safe in the face of vast indifference to their needs and the needs of their critically ill patients.
It’s easy to sink into a little bubble, dabbling, puttering about, encased in the little world created by four walls. But even that’s hard.
My sleep is fitful, and my appetite has seen better days. My concentration is shot, and that – for me – is one of the worst things that can happen to a writer. Reading, for the first time in my life, seems impossible. Although I have managed to put away several pages a day of Geraldine Brooks’s The Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. Perhaps the experts might frown on reading those sorts of books at this time, but there’s a certain comfort in knowing that things worked out for Anna. Sort of.
One of my heroes, journalist Dan Rather, states what most of us are thinking and feeling these days, although it might not be readily apparent to some people that this is so:
It is remarkable, when you look back at history, what humans can accomplish under great stress. And I seek solace in that. We are in the midst of tragedy, more will follow, but we will remain unbowed. We have no other choice. We must fight, not only for our survival but for a better future. When we look back at crises from the past, we can see that many have led to innovations that made the world better, fairer, safer, juster. We need to keep that in mind.
And that will require reminding ourselves of our own humanity. It will mean turning to memories from the past in order to build the future. It will mean reminding ourselves that the human condition is a mixture of joy and sadness, hope and fear. But there is beauty in this world, and there will be beauty still when we emerge from this moment of trial.