To think about the implications and permutations of the coronavirus is a daunting affair with no clear-cut solution. The thought of being volitionally incarcerated in one’s home would have been inconceivable a few short months ago. Perhaps a few short weeks or even days ago.
The point is, according to most credible intelligence, commit to ‘shelter in place,’ and do not make yourself vulnerable to this disease by leaving your abode. Okay, I get it. However, how long is this isolation going to last? The very best and presumptive case is until at least April. Most likely more, and during that time, are we (collectively) going to abide by the prohibitions?
Of course, there are those who get a pass because they have to serve the needs of the public. They are, in a sense, considering themselves immune because they are taking the proper steps to keep themselves germ free. Hopefully they are because we need them to perform and to stay well. For those of us in self-isolation due to the news (true news), Peter M. Senge, a scientist and senior lecturer at MIT has a take on those who do not abide by it.
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”
Sure, the resisters are out there, and are cavalier in their actions to gather en masse and feel they are invincible to this virus. In essence, no one is going to tell them how to behave, especially the government. Is there anyone who can make the entire population abide by the rules that may save us from undue hardship? The brilliant author and futurist, H. G. Wells gave this advice many years ago:
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature’s inexorable imperative.”
Could the government ever come out with that statement? Perhaps, if the going gets too rough they will have to. In the meantime, we cautious, believing folks, will have to think clearly about what H. G’s pronouncement suggests. He was talking about a new world, and although a new world begins every day, now it’s for real—a whole new ballgame is taking place. Unfortunately, all of the old ones are canceled until further notice.
With nothing but time on our hands for much of the day, thoughts go out to those who are suffering more than most. A husband, wife and three children in a two-bedroom, 1,000 square foot apartment has a more significant challenge than the same family constellation in a 4,000 square foot home with private grounds. How about a single person in a small apartment who abides by the isolation edict and stays home alone. No visitors for any of these people.
How long can one’s mental health remain solid? Dozens of these considerations come to mind as I strictly adhere to the wisdom of the knowledgeable. Thinking about the economy, businesses, employment, travel and future lifestyle occupy my idle moments. Reading, writing, eating and conversation with the other occupant of my home requires only so much time—the rest is for thinking and reflection.
Being alone, or even with another(s) can be beneficial to your mind and soul, if not your body. In a brilliant short story by Anton Checkhov, The Bet (see story below—worth reading!), is about a young man who voluntarily enters severe confinement for 15 years. His reflections and the ending are worthy of a great story. The essence of the bet was:
“Don’t forget either, you unhappy man, that voluntary confinement is a great deal harder to bear than compulsory.”
Wish I could write like that.
Stay healthy and be safe. Better times are coming.
Herman Axelrod was an educator for more than 50 years. He began as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and has held positions as a Public School administrator, Assistant Professor at Penn State University and teaching several adjunct courses at area universities. Most recently he was the Executive Director of the Green Tree School and developed several initiatives to broaden the scope of the services for children with autism and their families. Herman received his bachelor’s degree from Temple University and Masters and Ph.D. from Penn State University.