By David E. Sharp
Originally posted April 08, 2020
I tend to crave isolation until I get it. Suddenly, I find myself wondering what the rest of the world is doing out there, how are people fairing during quarantine, ruptured routines, and in some cases, significant upheavals. Some folks work from home. Others hope to have a job on the other side of all this. Still, others have already lost businesses or positions, all within the space of a week or more.
In the classic hero’s journey, there is a stage called The Belly of the Beast. This is the hero’s rock bottom, the place from which it seems impossible to escape. In this dark cavern of the soul, heroes face truths about themselves; they have always been able to ignore. What kind of a person am I really? When the pressure is on, how do I respond?
At the far end of this quarantine, I believe many people will look into a mirror and have new insights, welcome or otherwise, into their own character and integrity.
Some people may not like what they see. Did they look out for number one? Did they buy up food and hygiene items such that other people wouldn’t have enough? I recently saw some folks in my apartment complex carrying up bottles of laundry detergent in large tubs into their apartment. It was enough to do laundry for two lifetimes! For a family of ten!
My guess is they were looking for bartering items in the wasteland of Post-COVID-19 America. There they would set themselves up as laundry lords and establish their spring-fresh kingdom. Perhaps some soul-searching waits in their future.
Together, but separate. Twelve feet separate.
But it’s not all bad. Some folks are shining like stars in a dark night. People have put up Christmas decorations to spread cheer. In my neighborhood, several have written encouraging messages with sidewalk chalk.
Children’s author Mo Willems began hosting daily lunch doodles in which he leads children in drawing exercises to help them stave off the boredom for a while. People are sharing items with other people in need. Though they are separate, they are paradoxically growing closer to the people around them.
The tribulations of life draw out the inner person. This is why authors, terrible people that we are, cause no end of trouble to our beloved characters. We have to bring them to the end of themselves because that’s the only way we can pull out the truth of them.
They must face the ugliness in their souls as well as discover the beauty they hadn’t known was there.
I hope you are weathering your own storms well. And I look forward to gathering with my fellow writers after this one has passed. It won’t last forever. Until then, I wish you good writing and inspiration. And if your clothes are getting a little smelly, you can always pay homage to the laundry lords. Perhaps they will favor you with a bottle of Tide.