The hardest part about being on an island is fending off the uninvited guests.
I don’t mean the living kind. Most humans I know are being exceptionally good about the shelter-in-place orders. And any furry visitor is always welcome.
The uninvited guests are the emotions that cloud an otherwise peaceful reverie. Anxiety, fear, ennui and anger are a few, but we all have our own intruders. They are both normal and expected. How could we face so much uncharted newness without a negative response? Negativity is a natural state to humankind. Descartes’s famous adage, so often truncated (and thus frequently misapplied) says “Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum.” “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.”
Anxiety and fear can (or should) be allayed with reassurance and information. I have by design shut politics and policy out of my notes, but I can slip a little in to suggest that herein lies the biggest failure of our leaders’ response to the crisis. It is not their fault that so little is known, but it is their fault when they seem to impede the exchange of knowledge.
Ennui is a complex emotional construct that has tendrils stretching into despair and depression. It is not merely the absence of something to do. (We all have the capacity to sit and do nothing for long stretches. Otherwise why would televised golf exist?) It is rather a dysphoric block against being interested. I am no psychologist and have no brilliant advice beyond what I have tried: to be bold and set challenges for my creativity (you’re reading part of that challenge now). Perhaps we can find long-buried interests to pursue. Did we love stamps or comic books or butterflies or the Monkees when we were young? All those things are out there if we seek them with a purpose.
Anger may be the hardest to shut out. I am normally very placid (except while driving as my wife can attest) but I now find myself flinging shoes at the televised news or tearing up the newspaper. A more nuanced approach is to counter the source of anger with ideas. We all have a genuine desire to save the world. We merely need to find a voice to both relieve our tension and maybe create enough sparks to start a fire.
I have noticed several of my friends also posting occasional journals. I would love to hear from you all. Your ideas are always welcome guests on my island.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]