Readers may recall my column in early December about acquisition of a recliner after more than 45 years of living without one. I explained my wife’s dislike for this particular piece of furniture, which had graced my bachelor’s apartment until it disappeared after a short time in the early part of our marriage.
Not prone to give up things easily, embedding in them an emotional attachment, I continued to yearn for another recliner. We purchased one on a mid-summer day the past August during Bountiful’s Once in a Blue Moon sale. Except, strangely, we didn’t realize it was a recliner, sitting in it but not bothering to check it for its controls.
Adjustment was difficult for my wife.
After extensive efforts in moving it around our family room until my wife could tolerate its appearance, we now live comfortably with the recliner as part of our daily lifestyle. Frankly, I think my wife’s acceptance is still begrudging.
Now, let’s fast forward until late February 2020. I discovered one day that our beloved Yellow Labrador now enjoys sitting in “my” recliner. She seems nonplussed when I return home and see her ensconced in it. She doesn’t move, or does so reluctantly—or hurriedly when my wife comes home and makes it clear that dogs don’t belong in human chairs, at least not in our house.
As much as I love Sandy and appreciate the calm she brings to our household, I do think she has become far too comfortable. Where we see boundaries, she sees opportunities. Is she spoiled? Heck yes.
As the current restrictions on socializing precipitated by the spread of the Coronavirus become even more stringent, my wife and I are spending more time imprisoned in our own home. As is true throughout our country and parts of the world.
Mind you, we Americans are not living amidst conditions faced by the British during the London Blitz in 1940-41. Still, we face uncertainty and possibly death.
The recliner has become a safe, comfortable refuge for me (despite the shedded hair left by the lovable Sandy). My reclining life has increased as I spend innumerable hours reading newspapers and digital media, trying to keep up with the flood of news about COVID-19. Like many, I receive dozens of emails from a varied list of organizations explaining its reaction to the pandemic; the primary message is “we are shutting down, but don’t lose the faith—life will get better.”
All of us are housebound. We are doing chores that we may have ignored. We are reading books that had gathered dust. And at least some of us are talking on our cell phones to friends and family, much more frequently and longer than had been the case. I think that’s a “silver lining” that optimists like to cite.
The current crisis compels a day-to-day attitude. Future plans are on hold. We live for the moment and appreciate the newly-arrived simplicity and, very possibly, a formerly rare sense of tranquility.
The prior paragraph may imply that I have embraced introversion and aloneness. If so, I have no choice. As a certifiable extrovert, I’ve had to adapt and accept a reality shorn of human contact.
When the calamity ends—the timeline is undetermined—I promise I will return to an extroverted life, with admittedly some pangs over the plusses of solitary confinement.
Before I return to my wonderful recliner, I end by sharing a poem written by a Princeton University alumnus and sent me by a friend and PU alum:
“It is possible, I believe,
To hold heaviness lightly
To be calmly afraid
To cling to shreds of the ordinary
Even in the most abnormal of times
Fear cannot be quarantined
But neither can love,
Kindness too can spread,
Catastrophe can hold in the seeds of compassion
If we choose to let them grow”
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.