Finding a Balance Between Solitude and Loneliness


I saw a scarlet tanager from my window the other morning. It flitted past like something out of a cartoon, stopped on a fence post, then shot upward into the canopy of the oak tree behind the house.

I was not a birder, before all this happened, before I took to a desk in the bedroom to work. Now that I’m at home, though — as you may well be yourself, even if your state or country or region is cautiously exploring reopening — the window beside me has become the most glorious screen I have. I saw that red bird in his glossy black jacket and I grinned in delight. I do the same at clouds, now, when they’re moving fast. I mark the progress of the sun. Before, I just worked in a newsroom.

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For a great many, it’s a weird mix of both: a balancing act between pleasant solitude and desperate loneliness, between an acknowledgment of what passes for good luck and a desperate fear of the opposite, of an infected droplet falling unnoticed on your skin. That balance can transform itself, become a cycle whirring endlessly in the brain.

We’re hoping At Home can help. We’d like to think that it’s possible, even in the middle of a pandemic, to live a good and cultured life. Maybe you’re not going to read Nic Pizzolatto’s “Galveston” or Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud. (Though y’oughta.) But you could listen to our Michael Kimmelman play Bach, if you scroll down to the bottom of his recent diary. You could embrace leisure wear, instead of just pulling on last night’s sweatshirt again. You could watch a great movie. You could get a new board game. And I hope very much you’ll make pancakes one day soon, for they make life better nearly every time.

More examples of how to live well at home appear below. We publish more every day on At Home. Come visit. We’re not going anywhere soon.

You can always find much more to read, watch and do every day on At Home. And you can email us: athome@nytimes.com.



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