By Christine Emmert
I retired some years ago from the work a day world. My husband has more recently done so. We hoped for time to do our creative season – my writing and theater, his visual artwork. We lived modestly at the edge of a national park. We traveled once or twice a year, lunched and dinnered with friends, and went to selective concerts or plays. Rarely did we answer the phone. Even more rarely did we talk of joining clubs and organizations. To some people we might have seemed halfway to quarantine. Time was draining away now. We were officially “elderly.” The coronavirus reminded us of our mortality. We wanted solitude, not solitary.
In the medieval world epidemics and pandemics must have been more frightening. There was no easy way to know what was going on beyond your immediate life. In this pandemic we could be both well-versed and well-informed. When it struck our state, our county, our township we did not have to take it personally. Is the virus punishing us? Are we confined to solitary or endowed with a time of solitude in which to reflect?
Although I love my home and my husband, I see the pitfalls of having no safety valves when tensions are ready to blow. I see the longing to travel without getting into a car or train or airplane. I see what the Buddhist called Impermanence. I see the possibility of death without warning. This is what real solitude offers me. Doesn’t matter if I want it. I am pinned in place by the invisible handof a virus that did not exist in my vocabulary six months ago. I cannot move away. I am detained by solitude.
Christine works as a freelance writer and educator in addition to her theatre credits. She has been published and performed throughout the English speaking world. Most recently she was premiered on Cape Cod this summer in PETER PAN'S MOTHER. Her play, FROM OUT THE FIERY FURNACE, has been touring the last four years for the National Park Service. She recently published THE NUN'S DRAGON, a novel, on Amazon Kindle.