21 November 20XX
My Dear Lucilius:
Well, I have indeed been a slug-a-bed: no communication for two weeks? You must have though me dead or worse (given the current state of affairs, death is not really the worst thing that can occur).
Not dead, thankfully. Saddened, perhaps. May I even say a bit depressed? I had not given the thought I should have to what the impact of being shut away from everyone for long periods of time can do to the soul.
I have lived here long enough to anticipate and know the winters, which do not lend themselves to the sorts of “outings” that one finds in less snowy and cold climes. I have also lived here long enough to know that the opportunities for socialization remain much less than in the urban areas – as you will recall, this was actually one of the reasons that I moved here.
What I had not anticipated – thought about perhaps, even pondered – was what happens when civilization effectively hits the “Pause” button.
Having the option to go out or not go out, to shop or not to shop, to listen and watch or turn off, is quite a different thing than not having the option to do those things at all. Even before, there was always the option to go to the town or city for shopping and a bookstore and a meal or coffee, to turn on the radio or the InterWeb at my leisure to listen to the news of the day or music or anything that happened to catch my fancy.
None of that exists now, of course. Certainly not the cities and shopping and dining and only occasionally can one find a radio station transmitting – and they hardly transmit the sorts of things that raise the spirit. The InterWeb still occasionally sparks on as well – but again, who wants bad news from all over when one has bad news at home?
I would say I am fortunate in that I have a community so I occasionally still see someone – but even that is becoming more and more of a rare event. Yes, the snow on the ground does not move things forward, but going out represents time and energy and calories that one might need later – as well as the risk of sickness or accident which, with no immediate medical aid available, presents its own sets of risks.
It may sound to you that I am complaining of my conditions – I am not. I am extremely fortunate even still: I have a roof over my head and heat and water and food with every belief that I shall make it to the other side of this event (as opposed to living in an urban area, where I imagine my chances would be much worse). What I am doing is coming to the realization that keeping ourselves “bunkered in” while the world moves on outside of us does something to the soul, something that I wonder if any of us anticipated outside of researchers that studied such things and published in obscure journals.
It is one thing to isolate by choice. It is another to be isolated not by choice, by command or by circumstances. The first is based on freedom of action. The second is based on the tyranny of circumstances which gives neither an end date nor a hint of relief.
We may yet survive this Lucilius. What I wonder is what we will find – not in terms of crumbling ruins and defunct technology – but in terms of the souls of those that remain. Will we seek out community again? Will we know what that means? Or will we continue to only have small touch points as we have forgotten how and what it means to socialize?
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca