As we enter the heart of summer, I can tell that folks are coming down with quarantine fatigue. Patience is wearing thin, and people are antsy. Now isn’t the time to let down our guard. My wife Cathy, the Risk Management/Corporate Compliance Director at a small hospital shared a reminder yesterday on Facebook, encouraging people to remember that the virus hasn’t magically disappeared, our immune systems haven’t changed, and there’s still no vaccine or cure. We are, therefore, still in a time of trying to stay safe and to be mindful of those around us.
I understand the desire to want to believe that the world is going back to where it was before we were all encouraged to stay at home, but I imagine it might be some time before we all can freely move about and gather with others as we did in what we considered our normal lives. That’s the public service announcement of this post.
Today, Cathy and I surrendered to our own quarantine fatigue and decided to go out for a while. With masks at the ready, we drove out to one of our metro parks to see what we could see. We were particularly intrigued by the prospect of spotting the bison that roam freely on two enclosed pastures. When we got to the park, we were disappointed that many of the roadways were closed, so we couldn’t drive very far. Because of Cathy’s bad knee, we didn’t want to walk the trails. We did see some bison, but from such a distance it wasn’t possible to appreciate their magnificence.
So we headed back into Columbus to do some shopping at Whole Foods. We wanted some dairy-free naan to go with the Indian food we were going to prepare later. Our route to Whole Foods would take us through our old neighborhood, a drive we like to take whenever we’re in that area just to recall fond memories, but there was bridge construction on Trabue Road which required us to detour to Roberts Road and then circle back. The detour was another wrinkle in what we’d envisioned when we first set out, but we persisted. We drove through our old neighborhood and found our former townhouse, then made our way down Lane Avenue to the Whole Foods, where, wouldn’t you know it, we found no dairy-free naan.
Nothing about our trip really worked out the way we’d imagined it would—and, oh, isn’t this so often the way with the things we write—but we saw things we wouldn’t have otherwise: a sod farm, a newly planted cornfield, a beautiful farmhouse. Because our plans didn’t work out, we found new roads.
This is what we do as writers. We persist. If option A doesn’t work, we turn to option B and so on. This is what we do in this pandemic as well. We persist in what keeps us safe while finding low-risk ways to recall the old way of living that lies now somewhere behind us. We can’t do everything all at once. To try, I’m afraid, would be foolhardy. The returns from the 1918 influenza outbreak, or from the Great Depression, or from 9/11 didn’t happen all at once, or without significant sacrifices and changes in our world. Such will be the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. Be patient. I’m talking now to writers and to anyone so antsy to get back to “normal” that they foolishly disregard the social distancing practices that will lower the transmission of the virus. The manuscript doesn’t get written in a hurry or without missteps along the way. Often, we start, we stop, we go back and take another route. Make that your goal in this time of pandemic. Your routes may not be the ones you’re accustomed to taking, but they can carry you through some excellent times. Writing and living in a pandemic is all about patience, perseverance, sacrifice, accommodation, and finding what pleases you in what you might consider the out-of-the-way places. Remember, detours are is often the best routes.