A Shrinking World

A Shrinking World

“Many small people, in small places, doing small things can change the world.”— Eduardo Galeano

Some who are comfortable sharing their feelings in public have voiced this same phenomenon: a sense that our world is closing in on us, getting smaller, and that we need to find a way to open it back up to the environment we believed would always be ours. There are so many obvious reasons the shrinking world is a shared experience for many of us. Anyone who is cleaning an empty nest, middle aged, retired from an earlier life’s work, maybe single now when they’d lived many years not so, and still suffering from the emotional challenges of the pandemic will be experiencing the sense of contraction.

I’m quite sure the hysteria to increase social activity this summer is a direct outgrowth of push-back on this new sense of claustrophobia. Our perception that opportunities are diminishing and social connections drying up will also surge unless we realize that just as with many of society’s other ills, this pandemic, climate, and political upheaval have served to highlight existential realities rather than create them. For a writer or artist of any kind, some of the connection happens inwardly, with a turn to more private intellectual pursuits which are healthy. Yet artists know that without connection to the world around them, their subjects get stale, thus an increased worry for all of us writers that diminishing stimulus only serves to lessen the link to our art.

What can be done about these perfectly natural phenomena, including the isolation imposed by a pandemic? I sense it’s not anything extraordinary. Conserving the energy wasted running around in search of something of our past will give us more for focused effort on things we’ve possibly never found. I think it’s newness we’re after, and that can only be experienced with our receptors at full preparedness. Constantly vibrating antennae take a lot of effort to control and so I suggest we go into a state of ever-readiness rather than constant movement. I know my protagonist in the Emily Alden Trilogy came to deal well with those changes around her that seemed to be constricting her art and her life. Just being ready to go in an entirely different direction gives one all the breathing room needed. The world isn’t shrinking around us, we’re just shrinking from it. I think if we settle down to listen to the music of the spheres a bit more we’ll find new ways of expanding the possibilities.

2 Responses to A Shrinking World

  1. thank you for your comments, Paul. But I feel it is Emily who knocked it out of the park, not me. I hope you stay as sure of the message with my next book. I don’t think Emily needs us anymore. She’s doing just fine!

  2. Wow, this one is knocked out of the park and more than helpful. Emily is a perfect model and I now see more clearly why I was drawn to her. She experienced so many triumphs and set backs and remained ever-ready to seize opportunities wherever they popped up. She is a hero because I doubt that many people could have such a full life that was driven by the ability to remain flexible for the next chapters without a unified plan. Maybe the lesson from the pandemic is planning can go only so far until we settle back and play and enjoy the jazz.

We welcome you to the conversation! Please share your thoughts.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.