The Good, The Bad, The Cold
- Hot coffee, hot chocolate, and hot tea (this is not sweet tea weather)
- Scraping ice off your car windows before going to work
- Waking up to single digit temperatures
- Soups, stews, and chili (oh so many chili recipes)
- Owning a convertible (yep)
- Walking the dog in below zero temperatures
- Whiskey weather (oh so many hot toddy recipes)
- Always losing just one damn glove
- Snow in your dress shoes
- Sledding with friends while drinking the above mentioned hot toddies
- Starting the snow blower after it sat idle for nine months (damn two stroke engines)
- Hard wood floors and no slippers
- Christmas and New Year
- Breaking the ice scraper before going to work (try using you driver’s license)
- Two words: WIND CHILL
It’s a Short Trip
Here it is the last day of November and the Midwest has tickled us with temperatures that are just around freezing. Of course it may be sixty degrees this weekend, but another Midwestern winter will arrive soon enough. It’s not the cold weather that usually gets to me as much as it is the feelings of cabin fever, but this year will be a bit different.
I’ve spent some time this month discussing the idea of solitary confinement and I’ve come away with a couple fresh perspectives. The first is that even though a person may feel the pressures of solitary confinement (the self-imposed solitary confinement of Covid 19 in particular) there are authors whose words offer solace and support. These authors can show us that we are not truly alone and their works of fiction and nonfiction can help us through these tough times. The second perspective is that being alone (whether it be physical, emotional, or both) can be the best thing for you at that moment in time if you have purpose.
With the arrival of snowy days and below zero nights will come the doldrums of cabin fever. Previous episodes of cabin fever were always difficult for me, but with several months of self-quarantines and lockdowns behind me what’s another month or two of sitting out a Midwest winter?
A solitary life is not solitary confinement.
Four Views of Solitary Confinement
- “Incessant company is as bad as solitary confinement.” -Virginia Woolf-
- “We’re all mad, the whole damned race. We’re trapped in illusions, delusions, confusions about the penetrability of partitions, we’re all mad and in solitary confinement.” -William Golding-
- “In spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody. The essential substance of every thought and feeling remains incommunicable, locked up in the impenetrable strong-room of the individual soul and body. Our life is a sentence of perpetual solitary confinement.” -Aldous Huxley-
- “We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.” -Tennessee Williams-
I've been down, wrong, lonesome, and empty. Aching sleep won't go away. Found time don't bottle sorrow. Feet moan, floor coming apart.
Covid and Feelings of Solitary Confinement
Another Monday is in the books, and although most Mondays are pretty unmemorable the Mondays of the past few months have been just plain forgettable. I decided to take a closer look at solitary confinement as a state of mind because of Covid (the lockdowns, quarantines, and such). That solitary state of mind was strong today which teetered between monotonous routine and forced idleness (like many previous Mondays).
My article “Chekhov on Solitary Confinement” argues that voluntary confinement is more difficult to endure than compulsory confinement. Most of us are doing our best to adhere to the various guidelines and requirements of Covid 19, but the nature of self-isolation, self-quarantine, and social distancing can be quite trying. If you are like me, you go to work every day, take care of family members, run errands, and so forth and so on. For most of us life has settled into a monotonous routine, and when we finish up with the daily routine there isn’t anything to do. With nothing to do the routine slowly moves to a forced idleness. It’s been a while since I’ve read the “Myth of Sisyphus” but I think the routine must be like rolling the boulder up the hill and the idleness must be the waiting for the boulder to stop rolling at the bottom of the hill (not much of a literary analysis there but I’m already well into my third rye whiskey).
So what’s the take away? I think one possible solution is in the previous paragraph. I recommended Chekhov’s “The Bet” in a previous post and after I’m finished here I think I’m going to reread the “Myth of Sisyphus.” Stories about individuals facing and surviving solitary confinement, physical and/or mental, can help us cope with our feelings of confinement, routine, and idleness. Any suggestions on what I should read after I finish the Myth of Sisyphus?