It took some time to catch us up, but Dallas begins shelter-in-place tonight at midnight. When public gatherings were restricted this time last week, we commemorated it with one last restaurant meal (Chinese if you must know). I’m not sure how to mark this milestone, since the city has been enisled for a while anyway.
Humans are complicated. I am loath to disagree with the great poet and preacher John Donne who declaimed that no one “is an island,” but in reality, we are all islands separated by varying degrees of what today’s lexicon calls Social Distancing. Most humans have the Lone Wolf capacity. It is not always voluntary nor salutary, but it is always just below the surface. Society has had far too much practice in isolation in this century, starting with the response to the 9/11 attacks, up through the myriad contagions until we reach today, which I doubt is the apogee but might just be the highwater mark (at least to date).
One key is for all of us to recall that we are not alone in our isolation. This oxymoronic condition can serve as comfort during this “long, dark teatime of the soul” (to quote Douglas Adams) in several ways. Even without being in contact, the weight of others’ presence can help allay the loneliness. What’s more, we are certainly in a golden age of remote communication. With Skype or Zoom or any of the amazing outreach applications in existence today, we may not even have the luxury of privacy in isolation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, empathy is a great sharer of experience. If we can only try to spare a thought for others in similar (or worse) plights then we might just be lifted from our solitary confinement.
All of this will pass, but not without scars. The way we frame these days of distancing will tell how thick and tough the scarring may be.
Be healthy and reach out to me whenever you need to.