I was at my local supermarket, Pepper's, this morning, 10 minutes before their 7 a.m.opening time for seniors and those who are vulnerable. I had come to buy hand sanitizer made in a cooperative venture between a local distillery and a company that makes herbal products. The bottles were right by the door so I was waved in with the warning "shhhh....don't tell anyone!"
Back home, I slipped a CD into my CD player and started folding my laundry. It was a Barbra Streisand CD from 1997 called Higher Ground, that I had purchased from a thrift store many years ago and that I had tucked away and never listened to.
As track 3, At The Same Time, played, I was amazed by the lyrics! "Think of all the hearts beating in the world at the same time" was the main refrain.
Barbra's words in the insert to the CD read:
"I adore the lyrics of this song, which reflects exactly what I think: knowing how fragile the planet is, how fragile souls are, and how desperately we need unity. Look how the world came together after Princess Diana's death. We all saw how people need to be close, to love each other, to cry together, to feel together. I wish we could live like that all the time, without having to wait for tragedy to strike."
Yes, knowing how fragile the planet is .... and how desperately we need unity.
Then and now and always.
And, in order to stay as healthy as we can be, and to help others do the same, we must move our physical selves away from one another. We must have no less than six feet between us. And, we are beginning to cover our faces with protective masks.
Food Bank clients at St John the Divine, must wait outside for their dry food order and for bags of fresh food that are passed out to them. The vulnerable unsheltered in our community get meals served to them outside of Our Place on Pandora Street and camp out in tents.
Yesterday, a friend gave me a donation of two $20 bills for the Food Bank. Today, I was chastised for not immediately disinfecting the paper money and then washing my hands for the one- minute hand- washing protocol.
The world has changed drastically and so quickly.
We are in the midst of the phenomenon called physical or social distancing. While this isn't as restricting as complete self-isolation, it seems just baby-steps away.
The word "isolate" comes from the Latin word "insula", which means "island", and definitions of isolation include "separation", "segregation", and "not connected to other things."
Panama exemplifies these definitions with its new measure to combat the virus. Starting on Wednesday, only women will be able to leave their homes to shop on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The men's days for errands are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The time allowance is limited to two hours.
Everyone must remain home on Sundays.
Solitude is a different thing all together.
Vocabulary.com says about "solitude":
"'Solitude" is the state of being alone. You might crave solitude after spending the holidays with your big, loud family — you want nothing more than to get away from everyone for a little while...........The word solitude carries the sense that you're enjoying being alone by choice."
Solitude frees the mind from distractions and may enhance creativity.
Supporting this, Abigail Brenner M.D., in her article "The Importance of Being Alone", writes that "spiritually, being alone may bring you closer to your inner being, allowing you to more readily access the creative and intuitive aspects of yourself."
And, Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet, referring to solitude writes:
“But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.”
Further explanations infer that solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely, whereas loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation.
The question for me is how I can ease my often painful sense of isolation to a place that more resembles solitude.
Earlier this week, a friend sent me a text to set up a 9 a.m. phone date for the following morning. She told me that she tries to do this every day. I am definitely not a phone person....so what can I do to move closer to personal engagement?
I was introduced to someone on Facebook who posts a "prompt" on her page every day to engage her friends. She writes a word which might be a colour, a descriptive word like "rise" or, today's choice "wind", and people post their visual interpretations. I look through my photographs on the computer and choose one to post.
At first I thought I might start something similar on my Facebook page to involve some of my on-line friends, and then I realized that playing on Franny's Facebook page was absolutely perfect!
I'm thinking that a story time "game" might be fun. I will choose a few willing friends to play what we did as kids and even young adults, where one person started a story and stopped at a crucial place passing the story on to the next person who then added a bit and then passed it on again. An email
game? Or might it work on Facebook as well?