July has, so far, been my favorite month in this Covid-blighted year. In Europe and anywhere else they are available, vaccines are the game-changer and borders have opened up for summer travel, thus allowing us to migrate south from our home in central Germany to our bolt hole in the mountainous heart of Italy. The return to a semblance of normalcy and freedom has washed over me like warm summer rain, rejuvenating parts of my psyche that had shriveled in the Covid desert. Even the motivation to get little things done picked up momentum in the spring as the incidence of cases gradually dropped and renewal became visible in the offing. Oh, how dependent human well-being is on looking forward to better times. Or is that just me?
During lockdown, it seemed that my writerly muscles, located in the brain, were paralyzed, although the absence of social engagements – and, in fact, any appointments or deadlines at all – would have allowed for uninterrupted hours of unbridled fantasy, where story-worthy ideas could run wild in open fields of unlimited mental ecstasy. Think again. Stagnation was the word. It seems that’s not how the muscles (in my brain) function.
Only gradually did those muscles wake up and smell the uninfected air of a vaccinated spring. I can see it now. The neurons/muscles open their beady eyes, blinking in the first rays of a May morning. They stretch their gangly arms into the air and their little legs slowly venture out from under the bedclothes to touch the floor for the first time since their hibernation began, last October. They carefully test their ability to stand up on their own two feet; for after a long hibernation, they usually feel a bit dizzy. They shake their heads to loosen the cobwebs and make their way to the communal showers where they finally wake up, along with their neuron/muscle friends, under a hot shower that gradually cools to the temperature of the aforementioned warm summer rain. Life outside their windows to the world suddenly grabs their attention. Curious to know what they’ve missed during their little sleep, they run out the front door to have a long chat with the neighbors.
Or something like that. It seems to me that outside experience, outside stimulus, are necessary to me as a writer. At least this is my rationalization for my lack of writing during lockdown. But it also means that I’ve run out of excuses now that the world in our hemisphere is turning again.
How have you experienced the lockdowns of the past eighteen months? Did they stimulate or stymy your writing? Did they make you want to let off steam and debris like Mount Etna on a hot, sunny Sicilian morning? Or did they leave you curled up in a ball like Rosie and Rudi?
To end on a serious note, we don’t need Cassandra to warn us of what may come. Opening borders carries with it the makings of the next wave, as we are seeing with the spread of the virulent Delta strain. But rather than despair, let’s make the most of these few tentative months of cautious freedom. For your own sake as well as that of those around you who you love, PLEASE TAKE CARE AND GET VACCINATED!