|“Study of dramatic back lighting” oil on wooden panel, 16” x 16”|
Beginning Life in Pandemic Lockdown
I walked out to the market the other day -- it was right after the lockdown began. There was such a strange energy in the air -- a sense of foreboding and panic. The streets were empty. Here and there, a person hurried by -- head down, fearful. It felt surreal -- as if I would hear nuclear warning sirens go off in the distance. The feeling was not a pleasant one.
Just two nights before -- we had celebrated the "end of the world as we know it" at our local restaurant. That afternoon, my son came over and said, "Do you see what's going on?" To be honest, I hadn't been paying much attention. My sister had called me from Philadelphia, fuming, saying, "The crazy people have bought up all the milk, bread, and toilet paper!" I was seriously confused. I said, "Are we going to have a snowstorm?" She laughed and said, "No! It's over the virus!" What? What virus? That's about how much I was paying attention to that! But now, as he and I sat watching the developing events on the news, with alarm -- the runs on toilet paper and food, the hysteria, the States talking about quarantines, my son said to me, "Well, it seems that the world is going to end soon. Let's go out to dinner and celebrate our life as it is, for one last time-- my treat!" And so we went.
We met up with my one daughter and her family and we all enjoyed a long, bittersweet, somewhat nervous last dinner in our favorite local spot. We don't know how long *this* will last -- and we didn't know it then either...the restaurant owners are a sweet couple, and they quietly joined their diners in the revelry -- giving away free coffee and desserts to the scattering of patrons who braved the fear of "contamination" to come out and support them one last time. And then, the next day -- everything closed.
I felt fear clutch at me. The layoffs and the economic ruin that would ensue. The panic and the pain of financial devastation -- plus the very real possibility of riots, looting, martial law. The virus does not scare me. I've lived through nearly fatal blood poisoning, a motorcycle accident that broke literally every bone in my body, and a host of lesser injuries and diseases through the 50 years I've been here. I don't worry for my children either -- they are hearty and healthy -- or even for my Dad, who is severely immunocompromised with ongoing Stage IV leukemia. His motto -- "No one gets out of this world alive. Let's live!". My only fear is the unknown -- what does our country, and our world, look like after this "episode."
The anxiety of this took my breath away for the day after the lockdown. I lay on my couch utterly paralyzed, watching old movies, eating sweets (a taboo in our house -- my son is a jiu jitzu pro) and trying to come to grips with everything. I roused myself from the couch later that afternoon and headed to my studio, dazed, but forced myself to continue working. And the next day. And the next day.
Now that a week has passed, I feel cautiously "normal" again. I will remain in my routine of continuing my work, and adjusting to this new normal. I don't like the feeling of everything shut down, and our lives so limited, to be sure -- but I'm hoping this all ends sooner rather than later. In the in-between, I can really focus on the projects so many other distractions of our previous life had carried me away from, and on my family and friends -- so every cloud does have a silver lining.
As a reality, this pandemic has made me even more determined to tap into myself and create romantic and serene works of art -- beauty, peace, and serenity -- I need that -- we need that -- more than ever now! So, that is my newly inspired vigor, my eternal Muse.