Where are we? What day is it? During this time of isolation and near house arrest, my usually melancholic mind bobs in a devilishly polluted rip tide of doom, finding no solace in the things that once held hope. The Wuhan, China, or COVID 19 virus is at present wreaking havoc on the world. And yet, and yet, if I just turn away. . .
I have pulled out a novel - albeit eight pages long - which I began years ago and abandoned, not having the heart to carry it through. And yet, suddenly, in this time of fear and war-without-bombs, I find that the dialog now speaks in accents I had not heard before. The situation feels more real. The characters have heightened impact on the place where the Muse lives, above the tides, above the shore, looking into Beyond at the place of Story.
To keep busy I make lame attempts at keeping dog hair off the floors. I try to finish art projects. I like being alone, but now, it's not easy. For you who are extroverts and really suffer from the isolation, I send you sympathy. For me, I'd rather sit in a closet and write a story, or in a room with a chair and a good book, but what I miss is normalcy. It is hard to go against the grain when all that is normal has vanished. Aren't you writing? I hear from friends.
This has happened to me before. When being stationed in remote Northern Arizona with nothing but me and the dog and the dust in trailer battered by sixty mile-an-hour winds with gusts to eighty on most days, while my husband worked his job seven days a week, I couldn't write. I couldn't think. I wandered the hills and looked at plants, picked up pretty rocks to line my windowsills, mostly feeling alone. And then something happened. It wasn't good. Waiting for a biopsy report is the longest wait this side of pregnancy. But it roused my Muse and informed her that time was precious, and life was meant to live, and there are things you could say.
I know not everyone is given to writing. And not all writing needs to be a novel. Or even a memoir. However, for all of us, there are things you could say.
It can be a form of catharsis to know you have left something, even so much as a recipe, with a note that your grandmother made this but with more vanilla, is still writing. Write a letter. If you have children, grandchildren, address it to them, but put it away to send some other day, or at the reading of your will. Better yet, write it to someone as yet unborn. Tell them of this day. Tell of yourself, and why you feel what you feel. Fears. Uncertainty. The lack of companionship, or if you are just so tired of not being able to have a piece of pie with a friend at a diner. The lack of human touch even for those dying. Write a letter to the future. Tell them what you know about your inner self, your questions, your hopes. It doesn't have to be long to be powerful. Put it away in a drawer, and add to it now and then. Leave your words on the Story of Our Time.