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A Quarantine Essay — Navigating the Landscape

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1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle - Quarantine Essay #Covid-19 #Quarantine #Essays

April 25, 2020 Covid-19 Quarantine Essay, by Lynda Suzanne Wright.

The Last Normal Day

March 6 was the last “normal” day I remember in recent history. We went downtown for an art show opening in which I had two pieces. We picked up our friends and were happy to see all the crowd that night.

Knowing that there might be some more illness here than we imagined, most people, although socializing probably less than 6 feet apart (no directives then), were not hugging, kissing, etc., and I did see one person with a mask.

We dropped off our friends at the end of the evening, and that was the last time I had an in-person conversation with them. I counted down the next 14 days for myself, as a precaution. No illness. As I am over 70 and have mobility issues, my husband makes most of the grocery runs, since he can get in and out more quickly.

Tears to Rage and Back Again

The only superpower we have in this life is to navigate the landscape as best we can. For me, emotions have run rampant over this past seven weeks or so. As my dear husband can attest, I have run from tears to rage and back again.

A Sea of Change

In the past two weeks or so, I began to feel a bit of a sea change. I realized that our best recourse is to keep trying to do the best thing we can, one situation at a time, even if it is only trying to keep the squirrels off the bird feeder!

“Our best recourse is to keep trying to do the best thing we can, one situation at a time.”
~Lynda Suzanne Wright, retired teacher, artist, writer, photographer

Evolving Emotions

Feelings begin to evolve from reacting to trying to figure it all out — and guess what — we can’t. We realized all the ways we gather information and we see how truly perplexing it all is right now.

There are all the influences: news, analysis, sad stories, terrifying statistics, and every damn theory we can imagine, and some we can’t. There have been stones thrown and reactions recorded. There has been hope — and hope dashed.

Some of my friends have lost loved ones in this pandemic. Others have simply hunkered down and hoped for the best. Jobs and confidence have been lost. Some have learned that they can pray at anytime, and others have continued to press for open worship services.

There have been silent protests, angry protests, and all are legal and fine. Our only reaction is that none of us has the right to endanger others, and we hope not to see that happen. We choose NOT to adopt the “as long as I get to do what I want, I don’t care what happens to you” attitude. So — in our house, we concentrate on doing what we CAN do.

RELATED: Symbol of water as human emotions.

What We Can Do

What have we been doing? We have been drinking a lot of coffee. I am an artist, and although there are some who would assume that I am glad that I have lots of unfinished projects and should get right to ‘em, that doesn’t seem to be me right now. I have put a great deal of energy into meal planning, and shifting from my list-making mentality to re-thinking dishes after seeing what is available in the store this week.

Supporting Local Businesses

We also made a plan to order takeout from at least one of our neighborhood favorites once a week in a meager attempt to help them. We tip more generously when we can, because we get what they are experiencing right now. We’ve seen our friends who own retail, non-essential businesses, like antique stores, transform to online/virtual outlets in extremely efficient ways. They, like we, long for the personal interactions, but we know we are probably not there yet.

RELATED: Finding the good in the bad.

Great Conversations… Friends and Family

Our days are filled with (too much) television, but we are switching over to movies and series, rather than steady diets of news and fractious stories. We are weary of fact-checking but we still do it. Every morning we have great conversations. We check-in with family members and as of now, all are safe and well. Some are still working. Others are working remotely. All are doing what we are: navigating the landscape in the best way for them.

The Puzzle

We have a cupboard full of board games, but not all are appropriate for just two people. Then — all of a sudden, it seemed — our life opened up to us and we began to see not only the reality of situations, but their contexts. How did this happen so suddenly and precipitously? We BOUGHT A PUZZLE.

1000 Pieces

It was astonishing to see how expensive jigsaw puzzles could be, but I know the demand for them is UP right now. I ordered a 1000-piece puzzle, and adding more difficulty to the situation, it is a reproduction of an antique map (because Jeff loves maps).

We spent the first of our evenings with it on the dining table, sorting through all those pieces for the edges and corners, and we celebrated each find — needle in a haystack doesn’t begin to describe that — but we were proud of sticking with it.

For the next few days, we tended to work on it sporadically, one at a time, but we made some progress. Then we didn’t work on it. We covered it with placemats and had dinner. Sometimes I covered my placement with silk scarves and headbands (new project as my hair grows out).

Once I moved all the other materials and sat down to work at it again, I realized we had “missed” some crucial pieces that we needed, so I sat down in front of the television and sifted through the pieces in the (big) box. Again. I found some that I thought we needed, and Jeff took them back to the table. We did that for about 2 hours.

Lovely Pieces

But something derailed me. I was trying to keep the pieces right-side-up as I placed them back into the box, so I could scan them quickly, when I realized these minuscule bits of something were beautiful. I began to turn them over in my hands, looking at the subtle depths of ochre in some, and the bright splash of crimson in others. I started photographing them, realizing they did not need to be set in place to tell a story or to make a lovely picture. They were already lovely.

These—puzzle pieces—minuscule bits of something were beautiful and did not need to be set in place to tell a story or to make a lovely picture. They were already lovely.
~Lynda Suzanne Wright, retired teacher, artist, writer, photographer


Quarantine — not lovely, but revealing. We are building the jigsaw puzzle that is our quiet existence right now — and thank goodness we have each other. I have cried many times, but I am fortunate to live with someone who understands. This strange time is a new landscape to navigate, but all its pieces can be beautiful, even before they have been assembled.

We are building the jigsaw puzzle that is our quiet existence right now.”
~Lynda Suzanne Wright, retired teacher, artist, writer, photographer

Thanks to Lynda Suzanne Wright for sharing her quarantine essay! You may also enjoy this related article on finding the good in the bad.

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