Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Not So Great Escape

There is the iconic scene in The Great Escape of Steve McQueen, a captured soldier in World War II, with baseball and mitt in hand as his defiant reminder of life before the madness, strolling into solitary confinement, emerging weeks later fully intact physically and emotionally. We now realize that scene was pure movie fantasy.

For today each of us, in our version of social distancing, is experiencing just the slightest sense of what it means to be isolated. We still have the Internet, still speak with loved ones regularly, still shop for essentials when we must, most still reside in the company of one or more others and we still occasionally venture outside merely to breathe the air and to witness signs of life. And yet while we are far from alone, we all feel, some more than others, the terrible weight of loneliness. 

Did any of us fully comprehend our need to be in the company of others, whenever and wherever we choose? Did any of us truly understand the damage done to our soul when we cannot feel the touch of all around us, cannot hear the full concert of humanity happening in all directions, cannot see, omnipresent, its rainbow of emotions occurring for our viewing pleasure?

As our houses of worship shutter, our concert halls stand empty, all our places of congregation now and for unknown days hereinafter declared off limits, there is an ache inside us that is shocking in its intensity, hard to fully grasp. 

We are not in social isolation so much as social hell. It is a place dark and foreboding, no matter how many movies or series we have lined up, no matter the books we now read or the music we now hope will somehow fill a massive void.

This is an empty time, frightening in the thought that, at every instant, we await a knock on the door from an unseen enemy, wholly uncertain when we will be able to emerge and resume a semblance of the life we long took for granted.

And while I may decide in the next moment that I will sit down with The Great Escape, I comprehend that, at least for today, there is no great escape from the damage that the Coronavirus is doing to our emotional well being. 

I miss my baseball mitt and ball.


Anonymous said...



Nat said...

You write, " in our version of social distancing." I hope you mean "physical" not "social." Fortunately we have at our fingertips the means of touching others without contagion. Perhaps, most of all that is - during our quarantine time - what needs to be the priority. Here is what I have distributed to those who care for children:

Here are  7 general guidelines, to help you and the children for whom you care:

1.       While there are reasons to be concerned, know that there are very few cases of the Coronavirus in our state and country at the present. Everyone is working hard to be sure very few people get the virus, and that all those who are ill, get the help they need.
2.       It is important to keep in mind that comparatively few children have tested positive for the virus, and deaths in children are very rare.(https://www.sciencealert.com/if-you-re-worried-about-children-catching-coronavirus-here-s-what-you-need-to-know)
3.       Let children know that for most people, the Corona virus is like a regular cold, and they get better quickly when they get the proper care. Young children are really safer.  People who have other illnesses and older people have a greater risk of getting sicker with Coronavirus. Less than 1% of all cases in the world are in children below the age of 9.

4.       Be there and be calm:   Ask children what they know and what they have heard.  Listen to the child's story, follow the child's lead, and be reassuring about the ways that you will take care of them.  Use simple language and correct any misunderstood accounts. 

5.       Above all, know very young children respond more to your emotions, gestures and tone of voice - even more than your words - although your words are important.

6.       Limit repeated exposure to images and reports about the Coronavirus.  When children do see images or reports about the virus, Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood suggests that we help them "look for all the people who are helping".  Tell a child what they need to know, not all that you know.  For example, say something like "Some people are sick and being cared for.  You are safe and we are doing all the things to keep us healthy like washing our hands, and covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze.”

7.       Remember to take care of yourself: If the adults in a child's life are overwhelmed, overstressed and overtired, it will be more difficult to be safe, secure and stable for the child.