Surprising Contentment + Free-Floating Sadness
Dear Nicholas, I’m surprised to find how satisfied I am by my quarantine routine: work/weed/eat/read and, of course, hang out with Bob. I’m also taken by surprise by each upwelling of free-floating sadness.
Certainly it’s no surprise to be sad over the world-wide ravages of the virus. I’m assuming that’s what saddens me. How could it not?
Yet I don’t feel the roots of the sadness, the connections of the feeling to anything in particular. I can’t quite take in the reality of more than 12,000 dead in New York, more than 30,000 in the country.
I feel more directly the stress on a hairdresser friend who hasn’t been able to do any work for … how many weeks is it now? I’ve lost track.
I have it as easy as anyone could in these circumstances. I can work at home. And I’m out in the country, not in a high-rise, so I can play outside. Messing with plants is enormously soothing and satisfying. So is work, both on my book-in-progress and on reading/critiquing other writers’ manuscripts.
No Urgent Need for the Highway
When I first took up with Bob (38 years ago!), I couldn’t go two days without driving somewhere just to see some pavement and traffic. That has sure changed. We have a paradoxically nice routine here in these recent days of global upset.
For me, the awareness of the outside world arrives, not so much as the jab of new numbers and pictures, but as a cloud that descends and then passes on. Doesn’t come while I’m working, but in my leisure hours–and I’m usually keeping to my usual work-on-weekdays schedule, so it’s mainly on weekends.
The Passing Cloud
What I do when the cloud comes over– I weed. I pondered this note while I was outside filling a pail with wildly invasive bamboo grass, a feathery little item that makes kudzu look timid. Getting rid of some of it gives a feel of progress. I came inside ostensibly for some other reason, but really to write this even though I’m missing being out there on a gorgeous day. And, yes, writing it down is helping to make the heavy cloud lighter.
My other response to the cloud is nodding off. Pandemics are tiring.
Given what’s going on, I’d probably feel bad if I didn’t feel bad some of the time. Bad as in guilty. So much suffering and loss happening out there in the distance.
I do have some experience of quarantine, as I’ve written here before. It was called curfew when I first was part of a lockdown, years ago in India. Riots broke out in the city where I was doing research for my novel Sister India and a city of a million people was confined for all but a few hours of what turned out to be two weeks. That seems short now but at the time I feared it would go on for my whole three-month stay.
Like most of us now, I missed the experience of world war. So this pan-tragic experience, the whole world under siege, is new to me. It keeps bringing to mind the future of global warming, which seems to me a far greater threat.
The knowledge that things can go wrong for the planet is the ultimate loss of innocence. I’ve long felt that loss of innocence is not at the first sexual experience, but instead the first experience of something important going irrevocably wrong. This pandemic is a reminder that life on the planet could go irrevocably wrong.
And yet I’m happy most of the time. Doesn’t do any good not to be.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Thought I’d finished this and then just now attended a small online version of my 50th college reunion. What had been planned for this weekend became instead a dozen old friends on Zoom, one of them I hadn’t seen since we graduated. Our conversation felt as normal and nice as it did fifty years ago in the dorm cafeteria. I think we’ll do it again. So: a new tradition and another quarantine surprise….
Tags: awareness of the outside world, been postponed, being out there, Bob Dick, critiquing, curfew, days of global upset, experience of quarantine, feel bad, feel of progress, how many weeks, life on the planet, lockdown, Nicholas Stratas, quarantine routine, quarantine surprise, roots of the sadness, things can go wrong, ultimate loss of innocence, writing it down