Zen and the art of the quarantine

Harrison Burns — Staff Writer

Like most of my fellow students, when I came home for Spring Break, I was expecting a pleasant reprise from college stress and a quick trip. But in the span of 72 hours, all expectations for the rest of the semester burnt to ash faster than my marshmallows whenever I make smores.

The slow drip of dread quickly became a waterfall. James Bond is delayed until November. No crowds at March Madness. Italy is on complete lockdown. My friend’s college goes fully online. March Madness is canceled entirely. Tom Hanks has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Dordt is now online.

As with many others I’ve spoken to, the Tom Hanks diagnosis was when things became real for me. And the prospect of not returning to campus coupled with the government lockdowns is when things became surreal. Surely these sorts of things only happen in movies?

But turns out Mr. Covid-19 is a rather industrious pandemic and has disrupted our lives quicker than we can often process. And to save lives, the best thing we can all do is become lazy, shut-in hermits. Easier said than done.

With this in mind, I have compiled a map of the quarantine experience, to hopefully provide some catharsis for what you’ve also experienced or a warning for what may be in your future as we continue in this hibernation season.

OPINION.Art of the Quarantine_HarrisonBurns

Stage 1: Denial- This coronavirus thing is starting to sound serious. You’re sure that it will pass in a week or so. Just hunker down for a little while and things will get under control. Right?

Stage 2: Frustration- No sports. No wing events. No concerts. No theatre. No dinner parties. No group meals in general. No hanging out with friends. This is going to be harder than you thought.

Stage 3: Paranoia- You just sneezed, have you been infected? Can pets carry the virus? Why does everyone want toilet paper? Are you missing something? And have you seen any birds since everything went on lockdown? You don’t think so… and just when the government is shutting things down… coincidence?

Stage 4: Existential Crisis- Existential crisis.

Stage 5: Creativity Explosion- Alright if you’re stuck, you’re going to do what you’ve always wanted to do! Learn an instrument. Heck, you’re going to write a symphony. And finally get to that book you’ve been wanting to write. Eat your heart out Michelangelo, you just found some 5-year-old acrylic paint in your closet.

Stage 7: Limbo- You roll out of bed. You’re trying to remember what day it is, let alone write a book. It’s been two weeks. Or has it been two months? Or two years? You’re not really sure… you walk out of the shower. Scroll through social media in quiet trepidation. Look at the clock. It’s already 5pm. What the heck are you doing with your life?

Stage 8: Hallucinations- You’ve just had a deeply personal and illuminating conversation with your cat. You’re 99% sure that your dog just walked down the hall on his hindlegs. Something doesn’t seem quite right. Oh yeah, you left toast in the toaster five hours ago.

Stage 9: Loneliness- You really, really, really need to see a friend’s face or at least hear their voice. You can only talk to your pets for so long.

Stage 10: Adaptation- You’ve finally started to get into a routine. To stay on task, you’ve scheduled out every hour of your life for the next two weeks. Your household has had family meetings, laying down how you all will get along during the lockdown. All this screen time has forced you to order blue-light protection glasses. You don’t know if you should feel relieved or ashamed about this…

Stage 11: Confusion- Online classes at least provide something for you to do. Maybe a little too much to do. One day you feel like you’re caught in a time warp of doing nothing. The next day you feel like you’re caught in a time warp of doing endless discussion posts and Zoom presentations. Not exactly the balanced lifestyle you’re trying to adapt to.

Stage 12: Insanity- Last night you listened through David Bowie’s album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars”. At 2am. Twice. What a time to be alive! You can’t stop dancing. You clean your room and then make it messy again. Why? You don’t know, why does Ewan McGregor say “Hello There” better than anyone who has ever existed?

Stage 13: Acceptance-

This is a tough time for all of us. And some days, cabin fever can feel overwhelming and the news can be oppressively depressing. Sometimes, life is bleak and there is no covering it up in glitter.

But I know that in the midst of this, I have also been inspired by the grace and generosity I’ve seen from family, friends and strangers.

As lonely and annoying and difficult as this isolation can be, we can take heart knowing that by doing this, we are stopping a terrible situation from becoming absolute catastrophe.

So call a friend (I know I feel ten times more invigorated when I do). Enjoy some homemade cooking (that’s hopefully better than The Commons). Maybe even try something creative. Watch great movies, listen to great albums, read great books, play great video-games, pray for the healthcare workers, pray for those afflicted. Stay sane.

Who knows? You might even achieve some Quarantine Zen by accident.

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