“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
On March 5, 2020, I left my home in Denver for a road trip to Texas, mainly for my nephew’s wedding, but also to see family and friends. I returned March 14 to an entirely new reality.
Like others I knew, I hunkered down. Since I had little food at home, I needed to go to the grocery store, something I continue to do from time to time. I’m also keeping up my daily walks as well as weather permits, but otherwise I’m home-bound as I shelter in place.
I could hardly go out into crowds even if I wanted as museums, stores, restaurants, and rec centers, including the one where I play bridge, are closed and events on my calendar have been cancelled. Of course, all of the schools where I substitute are shuttered until further notice. Meanwhile, some businesses have offered timely promotions. For example, William Sonoma has closed its stores but offers “pantry basics and freezer staples that make for a delicious dinner any night of the week,” while Smartwool stated, “we believe the outdoors are more important than ever …”
Through email, phone calls and Facebook, I check on family and friends and stay in touch with them. As I write this, most of them were affected in the same way I was. Luckily, no one in our orbs is fighting the symptoms of Covid-19 or competing for a test, scarce equipment to support breathing, or a hospital bed.
Instead, we all seem to be searching for ways to make the most of our forced isolation.
I was one who took inspiration from historical luminaries from William Shakespeare to Frida Kahlo, have set a high bar for their accomplishments during times of social distancing, as detailed in this article:https://www.messynessychic.com/2020/03/18/from-frida-to-shakespeare-the-amazing-things-they-did-whilst-social-distancing/?fbclid=IwAR3P929Mcqprf6FOq6yquELFIr-TeJvAIZG4UMBUo_aDdi3TUibM5HoLVsg.
Best-selling author and co-founder of Scribe Media (https://scribemedia.com) Tucker Max mentioned some of these when he offered free workshops in how to write a book, which was enough to inspire me to sign up. Maybe there will be a book boom months after the great confinement.
Some contacts have mentioned hands-on activities, like cleaning out their basements, spending time with others at home, getting in touch with family and friends, or volunteering in the community. Television keeps us up to date on the news, but the airtime is more than enough for rehashing dire reports, especially considering unknown and immutable answers. Few that I know seem to be focused on binge watching television series.
Many turn to the Internet, sharing sites that inspire, uplift, and educate, including the following. While I’ve found all of these prospects intriguing, I’ve explored some more than others and offer apologies if any turn out to be duds.
Inspiration From Cultural Sites
Google Arts & Culture offers a plethora of museum tours at https://artsandculture.google.com.
Libraries, archives and other cultural institutions around the world contributed to Color Our Collections organized by the New York Academy of Medicine. Coloring enthusiasts can print resources located at http://library.nyam.org/colorourcollections/.
The Louvre offers tours on its own site at https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne.
The Van Gogh Museum shows selections at https://vangoghmuseum.nl/en/explore-the-collection.
The Metropolitan Opera of New York City streams performances at https://www.metopera.org.
AFAR included most of the above ideas, along with others, in an article at https://www.afar.com/magazine/virtual-museum-tours-live-performances-and-classes-to-enjoy-during-self-quarantine?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=031720%20VirtualMuseums&utm_term=Daily%20Wander%20Newsletter.
Travel + Leisure provided an article about national parks that can be visited online at https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/national-parks/virtual-national-parks-tours?did=503183-20200318&utm_campaign=just-in_newsletter&utm_source=travelandleisure.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=031820&cid=503183&mid=31058178072
My FEMA pal Stuart George posted information on Broadway plays at https://www.playbill.com/article/15-broadway-plays-and-musicals-you-can-watch-on-stage-from-home?fbclid=IwAR1oHJZSZkCUl9A7D9uqXTK5FPXSTSJiRikecAAdGFRL3K2jTp-44qtKyXc . He also suggested that tickets be sold to live productions of plays. “I’d be thrilled to sit in my living room and see a live performance that only 1,000 homes in the world are watching,” he wrote in his Facebook post.
Enlightenment From Educational Sites
My hosts in Austin, Texas, Mariam Nouri and Ian Hamilton of Noon Scientific, https://www.noonscientific.com, are some of the most fun nerds I know. They introduced me to a series of lectures by University of Texas Department of Neuroscience, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkguEfbxP6XsIScPQ-gfA5g.
Khan Academy, where online classes are always free, has added resources for users new to the site at https://www.khanacademy.org.
Judging from the buses I’ve observed there, it appears that every school child in driving distance from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science gets to visit the museum. In keeping with that tradition, the museum in conjunction with MacGillivray Freeman Films, suggested watching popular educational films that are available for streaming. Several titles are listed at https://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us/suite and many come with educator guides.
For those with young children at home missing school, Scholastic offers daily activities at https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html?promo_code=6294&eml=CM/smd/20200312//txtl/sm/ed&fbclid=IwAR2D9YNm6B8tIlSqbHa_sPuB73y8u_GDX53HAsnaieXF59n3vnNZzQpBOw8.
Kids can listen to stories for free on Audible, an Amazon company. Information is available at https://stories.audible.com/start-listen?mi_cmp=21b6d7d8b2f846dc&mi_ecmp=486622220&mi_sc=t&mi_u=amzn1.account.AFBBYSWYOYWKSH3EUG5NPZPLG24Q
Search For Meaning
As if inspiration and enlightenment weren’t enough, some of us are alert to whatever meaning may be found in this this potentially fertile, though uncertain, time. We’ve communicated about the play Come from Away, about the warm hospitality Newfoundland townspeople showed to strangers who were stranded when their flights—38 of them–were stopped on 9/11. We communicated, too, about how the withdrawal from our normal routines came at a time when Christians were observing Lent.
Father Thomas Keating wrote in The Mystery of Christ, “Into the human predicament—and the liturgical season of Lent—Jesus comes proclaiming, ‘Repent for the reign of God is at hand.’ ‘Repent’ means ‘change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.’”
Some deep insights or new perspectives may come from pondering the cosmic revelations and repercussions that come out of the pandemic and the handling of it. Or they could come from reflecting on how lucky of us are personally to be able count our losses, along with our blessings, and know we survived. Maybe that will be a topic for a future blog post informed by hindsight.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hosting a local Airbnb guest who will be hunkering down with me as she goes through a transition. It will be good to have her around.
And, maybe I’ll find time to read something by Colombian author and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, maybe even Love in the Time of Cholera, which is actually much more about love than infectious disease.
If you need help tackling a writing project during this time of confinement I’d like to hear about it. Please contact me.
Photographer and FEMA pal Stuart George reviewed this post and found the opera link worked well on his Apple laptop but not his phone. He also provided an additional link for plays and opera: https://www.whatsonstage.com/london-theatre/news/stage-shows-musicals-opera-free-stream-online_51198.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=18march2020&fbclid=IwAR3VTLLVVz_qBfyYVaFK-BX3Zbroa4xnkTSZkGmWJ47_Q47pq2sXvSWfPlQ