The idea of writing about this came from a monthly journal I love more than any other. Gilbert Meilaender wrote a piece about this topic and I’m stealing his concept.
There have been plenty of serious articles and sermons and blog posts about quarantine that cover all matter weighty: our mortality, changes in society that may be lasting, economic recession, etc. What about less serious, more trivial matters? I’m glad you asked. Here are my own not-so-deep thoughts.
- Quarantine has been an unqualified joy for pets. We have a cat (Carlotta) and a dog (Calvin). Technically we also own a fish, but I cannot comment on how he/she has fared in the last month. “Carl,” as we call her, has been more than happy to curl up with us any time we happen to be sitting on a couch or chair (the other day she tried in vain to jump from the couch to my desk, her leap thwarted by a loose piece of paper which led to a back flop onto the floor). Her “resting look” of extreme disdain has softened over the weeks in my estimation. And for Calvin, the Kingdom has come near and the “not yet” has become the “now.” His best friend (Hunter) plays tug-of-war with him daily; also daily, someone in our household walks him. He is looking as fit and gregarious as it is possible for a golden retriever to look in spite of the increased quantities of table food he has enjoyed (thanks to my soft-hearted children).
- I have come to rethink the phrase “quality time.” As our family has spent more time together, we have become closer not because of its quality but because of its sheer quantity. We are constantly around each other. This has been deeply enjoyable as the rule, with pockets of anger and annoyance as the exception. Card and board games abound (Settlers of Catan is our family favorite, followed closely by the card games 3-13, Mao and Capitalism) Our relationships have deepened; we have laughed together more (both at and with each other). This is not because we have scheduled deep talks or family counseling (“quality time”). It is because we have spent large quantities of time together. I hope this continues beyond quarantine (though I fear it will not).
- Meeting virtually via video conferencing is nice (better than nothing), but not nearly as vivid and rich as meeting in person. The nuances of non-verbal communication are garbled, as are about 15% of the verbal communication thanks to multiple people speaking at once and bad connections. Comedic timing is next to impossible.
- I have never seen so many people outside walking when the weather has been balmy. What better timing could there be to receive a warm, sunny spring? Seeing and talking to so many neighbors outside has been a pleasant extroversion exercise for me in a time of forced introversion.
- It is very easy to eat copious amounts of food when one is home all day every day. I love taco night (pictured above) and all the meals we have shared. But somebody needs to hide the chocolate eggs, cookies, and jelly beans.
- The age-old circadian rhythms of teenagers that lead them to stay up and sleep in late, while the not young go to bed and rise early, has definitely held true in our home. My oldest two stay up until 2am some nights, sleep until 10 or 11a, and go about their day, taking care of their responsibilities. I could not function doing that! Quoting Ben Franklin to them does not alter their behavior.
Although quarantine has been a wonderful blessing in some ways, I very much look forward to seeing you all again, hopefully soon.