I can imagine that the thought and practice of social distancing is difficult and depressing for many people. However I think there are probably a large number of people who tend to easily “self-distance” – even those who live in big cities.
As newlyweds my husband Tom and I bought, lived on, and traveled aboard a Cal 2-34 (sailboat) for about seven years. Our time aboard is covered in the book Life Was A Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, A Boat, and a Big A** Ocean. 34' is a relatively small boat on which to live and make ocean passages. Due to our continuous challenges and adventures (like in learning how to sail at the beginning) we never grew bored.
After selling everything we had and scrounging up every last penny, we left “civilization” and meandered off to Alaska. Once there we spent two years working and exploring the endless inlets, bays, and passages.
From Sitka, Alaska, we sailed to Acapulco, Mexico, and then made the 2700-mile jump across the Pacific to Nuku Hiva. For that month it was just the two of us on a small boat on a big, empty ocean. We island hopped extensively then eventually made several other ocean passages - just the two of us. Finally we made the long journey from Hawaii back to the mainland. I will admit my husband often became a bit glum about the half-way mark on our ocean passages. I always grew restless and agitated about three days out from shore.
“Back in the day” there weren’t many blue-water cruisers out there compared to nowadays. And by “back in the day” I’m talking pre-GPS days, when sextants and dead-reckoning were used for navigation. Few boats had radar. I became an expert at meridian passage shots. My husband was a genius at dead reckoning, developing the ability to account for current and miles traveled (we did have a Taffrail Log that helped with the mileage).
Years after our return, we left the small coastal town we'd settled in upon our return and moved to an even smaller town in Oregon that was “uncluttered” with people, big box stores, and traffic. We easily went for days, and sometimes weeks, seeing no one but our cows, horses, chickens and dogs. We lived in several remote areas over the decades, but it seemed others would discover the charming areas all too soon and then the hoards would arrive, spoiling the serenity.
Now that everyone is mandated to “social distancing” we find our lives very little changed. I miss seeing my two small grandsons now that we’re “distancing,” but otherwise nothing has been upended.
My husband and I row, ride mules, and hike. I keep busy with gardening (trying to anyway), reading, writing and some publishing (see Moonlightmesaassociates.com). I’m very interested in conservation and also very involved in earning a Marine Naturalist certification. (We spend months at a time on our boat in the Inside Passage.) The sales from my last book, Saving Our Oceans, are entirely dedicated to the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and to the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. I'm also chairperson for the JUST ONE THING Alliance, and I'd love to get more involved with the Rights of Nature movement.
In other words, we both find plenty to keep us busy. I'm not an “isolationist,” however. We don't shun people. I guess one could say we're just very good at "self-entertaining."
So, a person can be “alone” or isolated but not lonely; alone but not a monk; alone but still actively partake in life. I think once more people figure this out and find their "niche" or special interests, social distancing will not be such a dismal prospect and experience. Well, it's likely not all that simple, but I think it's worth a try.
What are your thoughts?