Distance of Isolation

Another rant.  After more than a month in the world of self-isolation and social distancing, I find myself sad, anxious and distracted by the existential nightmares coming alive while I’m awake. I make to-do lists and get through them. I read through the roaming Covid 19 non-sequiturs in my email. Travel is on hold. 

In Iceland where there has been much testing, fifty percent of those testing positive for Covid 19 are asymptomatic.  Am I one of them? Should I be even more careful about not potentially infecting others? Getting someone sick would be the worst.  Though I don’t want to be needing a ventilator when there are none to be had. And I don’t want to need a hospital bed when they are setting up hospital beds in gymnasiums.

Still some don’t take precautions. A home contractor tells me it is OK to be closer than six feet because we are outside. Perhaps I envy the ignorant bliss. On the radio, a woman from Arkansas said at first she wasn’t concerned about Covid 19 and thought it was all politics, but now she locks her door! (This was not one of the one-liners in the bank of email chain letters.) Yahoos in some states hold crowded protests over social distancing policies. Will we ever win this fight when we can’t get unity about what it means to do our part to flatten the wave? 

“Can everyone please just follow the government instructions so we can knock out this coronavirus and be done?! I feel like a kindergartner who keeps losing more recess time because one or two kids can’t follow directions.”—Anonymous  

I get calls and texts and invitations to Zoom meetings just to check in. My business callers start out with the concerned inquiry of “How are you doing?” With all this polite concern, it’s as though I am already a hospital patient. As much as I am touched by those who show their concern, I am wounded by those who remain non-responsive.  

I see my State fighting to get ventilators into our hospitals. The Federal Government declines its calls to contribute and calls the national stockpile “ours” as though there is an elite membership of We the People to whom the Federal Government is responsible.  I listen to my State legislators succinctly lambast this notion. I feel upset. Will we make enough ventilators only to have the Federal Government sell them out from under us?

I tune into the BBC and watch Queen Elizabeth’s address on the Covid 19 Crisis.  That calms me. Then I read about what happened to the poor people caught in Dehli’s local shutdown order and became distraught.  Having been in a mob running from Indian police pounding people with wooden clubs, it is all too predictable. Anxiety returns.

I take long walks.  People nod in greeting as we step further apart. As I am plodding along, the messages become surreal. One writes that she has reorganized her underwear drawer. Another texts and sends a photo of her newly organized sock drawer, crediting her efforts to Maria Konda’s book. (I don’t think I’m going to get around to reading that one.) I read the daily numbers of how many died and how many are hospitalized and how many are testing positive.  I watch the first responder numbers shrink.  

For my own part, I find this surprise space a respite in which to catch up with everything in life that was getting beyond me. It is good not to drive so much or be at the stores so often. The air quality must be improving. The downside, of course, is all those out of work and out a pay check. How long can that last without bringing about its own chaos? Will people return to work out of desperation and raise the viral tide?

For me, a loved one has died and there is no coming together to mourn and console each other. Will this grief take an unknown path as I mourn in isolation? I find myself speaking aloud to the deceased and dreading the time when the veil between the living and dead will become less penetrable? I know I’m not alone in this condition during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Indeed, our numbers in solitary grief will continue to grow.

I find snippets of common sense and cling tightly.

The joy we need to see.

“For me my parents have reunited with the good Earth, the provider of life.  For me their departures are the inevitable gashes in life’s tapestry, never to be mended, but accepted as the price exacted by time.  Tibetans have their prayer banners that fly in the wind; eventually the printed prayers fade away leaving an empty cloth and whatever the winds have taken possession of.  That seems a fitting image to apply to the tapestries of our lives.  History and the arts represent what the wind carries through the ages.  Fortunate ones know to keep the windows open to feel the comforting breeze.”  —from With A Thousand Antennas by Allen H. Agnitti

TATTOO—Journeys on My Mind by Tina Marie L. Lamb is available at Amazon and BarnesandNoble and iBooks and Audible.

Buy it. Read it. Let me know what you think. –TMLL

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