I am still facing that existential angst

I am still facing that existential angst

Stir crazy. I looked the phrase up, just for fun.

“Restless or frantic because of confinement; mentally ill because of long imprisonment.”

That just about says it all for some of us lately, doesn’t it?

Some people are already feeling the stress of this virus-enforced isolation the world is experiencing, and for others, it’s a well-deserved break from the rattling, rumbling ever-quickening treadmill we call life.

For the Rotten Kid, the son one, university is now a digital domain where absolutely everything is homework.

But in his world of wildlife biology, he makes sure he goes on daily walks in nearby parks and forests and other assorted nature.

Much better than stuffy classrooms anyway. He just has to make sure to carry a 10-foot (304.8 centimetre) pole.

For the other Rotten Kid, the daughter one, as a dance teacher/choreographer/adjudicator, all the busy rehearsals, performances and travelling are, of course, on hold.

And wouldn’t you know it — it’s dance festival season. So what’s an active, creative athlete to do during these unprecedentedly weird times of isolation?

She got a cat. And if anything can make life suddenly more interesting, rewarding and distractingly crazy, it’s a new rescue cat in an apartment.

The Better Half’s work is basically shut down for now, so her biggest challenge is putting up with Yours Truly, on account of I mostly work from home a lot of the time anyway. She has already been receiving sympathy cards from friends and neighbours.

I’ve never been good at being stuck in one place. I get ants-in-my-pants antsy at the drop of a hat. Bouncing off the walls, champing at the bit, raring to go, as jumpy as my Rotten Kid’s cat on a hot tin roof.

And obviously, being restless also causes me to use a lot of cliches. Not sure why, it just gets my knickers in a twist.

I remember once, years ago, I decided that I needed some time alone. I had a lot of important thinking to do at the time, something to do with my future or the meaning of life, or whether I should get a dog, or some other form of existential angst that always seemed to plague me through the first 30 or 40 years of life, so I decided to self-isolate.

My sister and brother-in-law kindly lent me their tiny holiday trailer (and their land yacht Oldsmobile station wagon to pull it with), and off I went to be solitary.

I figured Gull Lake was far enough away to solve most of my problems, so I pulled into a camping spot a good stone’s throw away from anybody else.

I lasted about four hours. Then I got pathologically restless. Since cellphones were still imaginary, I walked to a phone booth, which, for you millennials, is a glass box you stand in and put coins into a telephone the size of a suitcase and that Clark Kent used to change his clothes into Superman.

(I always wondered what Superman did with those clothes — leave them on the ground in the phone booth?)

Anyway, I called a buddy and he arrived about an hour later and we played cards and roasted hotdogs. After he left, I thought about important things for a while, got bored and dragged the trailer back home early the next morning.

But that was all before 24-hour, 300-channel television, and Netflix binging and eReaders like Kobo, and YouTube, not to mention the aforementioned cellphones and texting and emails and the plethora of digital distractions commonplace in our messy, modern milieu.

Still, during these challenging times, I can’t help facing some familiar existential angst. I think I need a dog.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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