The Irony Of Isolation

As a rather contented introvert, being isolated should not be such an ordeal. I’m used to not talking to anyone all day long until my husband comes home from work. And yes, we’ve made some new friends here and enjoy an occasional get-together. But my daily life is fairly solitary. Besides exercise and household chores, my routine consists of writing, researching, editing, and possibly art projects. However, in a strange twist of fate, isolation has completely disrupted this quiet existence.

Since we’ve been in lockdown for the last couple of weeks, I swear I have spent more time writing and answering messages, emails, and talking over WhatsApp and FaceTime than I ever have. We all feel the need to get in touch. It might be out of genuine concern, boredom or perhaps that dreadful feeling of I might never get to see you again if one of us gets sick. It’s probably a combination of all those things. I’ve never been a Facebook person but I find myself scrolling through it all the time now. I have joined local groups so I can find out what’s going on here in the village. This is not me!!!

It is not surprising that ‘people’ people [extroverts] are in constant contact. I get that they need to be connected to feel energised and fulfilled. But someone like me doesn’t normally need that kind of interaction. It also doesn’t make me a bad person or cool, aloof or uncaring. It just means I cope differently. I find peace and quiet rejuvenating. Isolation should be a piece of cake. Should be. Why am I losing my mind?

These are unprecedented circumstances. Even though I’m reaching corona fatigue, I still feel the need to pay attention, to wait hopefully for that good news to come. Until a return to normalcy [whatever that’s going to look like] we all need to talk, to vent, to connect and make sure everyone in our circle is doing ok. Even us introverts, apparently. I should be great at self isolation. But I’m not. How ironic.

I don’t feel like writing because…

…because I don’t feel like talking about Covid-19. It feels like everything has stopped and the things that are going on are spoken of and written about in relation to the virus and the measures affecting them. At the same time, it feels trivial to try to write about what I’m working on while ignoring the pandemic altogether, or writing about my activities in the context of how to keep busy while quarantined. Or should I say self isolation. I don’t want to give ‘let’s think positive’ advice, I don’t want to trivialize this epically serious disease, and I don’t want to tell you how I can’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than 15 minutes because of the low level dread I’m feeling.

But here I am anyway, just writing a little note to say hello. I send my best wishes for everyone’s health, safety and sanity for the duration. We’re doing ok in Ireland, so far. The government is being proactive and the people for the most part are following the rules. There, that’s all I’m going to say about it. My 15 minutes are up and I can’t pay attention any more.

Handwriting

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I got a letter in the mail from a friend back in the States. This may possibly be the first personal letter I’ve received in decades. Business correspondence not included, of course. My friend is a Luddite – she has no internet at home, no smartphone and no email address. Anytime she absolutely needs the internet, she visits the local library. I cannot imagine living this way! However, if I’m going to be a good friend and keep in touch, I must respond with a physical letter of my own. And this I did today.

In an interesting little twist, I realized that despite being able to type up a letter to send, I have no way of printing it. I’ve come to depend so much on digital everything, that I don’t even keep hard copies of my own documents. Honestly, if the cloud ever goes down I am positively doomed. But really, I hate collecting paper. I was therefore, compelled to write by hand this letter to my friend.

How often do we actually use handwriting anymore? Besides our signatures, there are few opportunities to ‘write’ at length. My GP and dentist all use electronic forms. Nevertheless, I still hand write often. And strangely, I like my own handwriting. I have kept notebooks for all my writing projects and I nearly wrote the entire first draft of my first book in a series of notebooks. Some things are just better with pen and ink. I wonder though, if the following generations will use handwriting at all. And if they do, if it will be a form of block printing? I hear they’ve stopped teaching cursive handwriting in schools. And if that’s the case, will future generations no longer be able to decipher a document written in cursive?

It makes me a little nostalgic – writing by hand. I think of all the beautiful lines of poetry, the masterful works of fiction, the powerful speeches and philosophical treatises written by hand before being set to type for printing. I hope that somehow this fading skill will not be thrown in the dustbin of history. At least not in my lifetime!