Not long ago, my book club read A Gentleman in Moscow, a novel about a man who was put under house arrest by the Bolsheviks in 1922, and ordered to spend the rest of his life in the elegant hotel he had been living in for several years. He was warned that if he set foot outside the hotel, he would be shot.

I’m starting to understand how he felt.

Not about getting shot if I step outside, of course, and certainly not the “elegant hotel” part. I live in a normal, ordinary house, and don’t have any cooks, housekeepers, or concierges on staff. Still, I’ve been learning what it feels like to be cooped up in one place, and unsure of when I’ll be allowed to go out again anytime I want to.

Because I have several of the underlying health conditions that warrant extra caution, my husband is the one now doing all our grocery shopping and running most of our errands. My outings over the past 3½ months have pretty much been limited to doctor’s appointments. When I went in for my last annual physical, I couldn’t believe how excited I was over getting out of the house and going to a place where they were planning to stick me with a needle and collect my blood.

I’m not complaining, though, about being under the coronavirus version of house arrest. I fully understand that staying home is much less inconvenient and uncomfortable than being in a hospital bed, even more so than also being hooked up to a ventilator. And even though I’d rather spend the summer being out on the lake, visiting family, or at neighborhood barbecues, I appreciate that I can still soak up some sunshine from our back deck, which I wouldn’t be able to do if it were the middle of winter and we were stuck indoors.

All of this reminds me of two principles that always help me through the rough patches in my life. One is that no matter what I’m going through, there are always people who have it worse than I do, so I shouldn’t get caught up in feeling sorry for myself. The other is that even in the darkest of times, there are bright spots to be found if I just take the time to look for them.

Maybe I’ll go outside and sit in the sun for a bit as I ponder those thoughts. And then, after that, I should probably get started on our next book club selection.

June 26, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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