To Thine Own Self Be True While Coping with Social Isolation

Walking to Cope with Isolation

By Gail Jokerst

William Shakespeare’s famous line, “To thine own self be true” comes to thought as I consider how I’ve coped with the social isolation and restrictions imposed by the current health challenge.

One thing I have known about myself since childhood is that I am someone who thrives on spending time outdoors. And fortunately, keeping clear of the coronavirus doesn’t preclude that.

As a kid, I practically lived outside whatever the season. Nothing indoors could appeal more to me than jumping into piles of crackly autumn leaves, playing kickball in the street all summer, pulling a sled through snow-clad sidewalks to the next best hill, or the scent of spring rain on the lilac bush in our front yard.

As an adult, I may not play kickball or jump into leaves; however, I still crave time outdoors. Granted, I never was, and still am not, jock material. But I can’t forsake the feel of the sun on my face or the wind at my back any time of year.

So now, more than ever, I make sure to get outside daily for a first-hand assessment of what Mother Nature has in store for me along with the clouds and critters.

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While I can’t join groups of friends at restaurants or concerts, I still am able to take walks. That seems as critical to me now as knowing I have milk, butter, and eggs residing in my fridge.

Since wintering in Arizona, I walk most any time I want. But even when I lived year-round in Montana for three decades, I rarely let the weather lock me indoors. Instead, I’d don the obligatory layers and bundle up in an old Air Force parka to stay toasty while trekking or skiing to get the mail at the West Glacier post office.

Or, I’d carry an umbrella on rainy afternoons as I circumnavigated the local golf course and watched for Buffleheads and Goldeneyes along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

It has never mattered if I walk alone or with someone else. Conversing with a present warm body or a distant voice on the cell phone is a nice way to keep connected with people I care about near and far.

But solo quietude is equally nice. It’s also necessary whether to plan a grocery list or pray to see an end to this virus. ISI

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