My name is Coni Rich, PLS class of 1989. I live in Granger, IN (about ten minutes from campus), and I am presently retired and undergoing dialysis treatment while waiting, hoping, and praying for a kidney transplant.
The one percent reference is to my immune status and how I fall into the category of people for whom the coronavirus will be deadly if contracted. Under normal circumstances, dialysis treatment is invasive, scary, uncomfortable, and confining. With the virus in play, however, we now don protective gear and then diligently try to avoid any/all human contact for the foreseeable future.
My fellow PLS alums, I'm sure, have turned to serious contemplation of the larger themes of life and are relying on their close reading of significant texts to help them navigate these waters.
I turn, as I always did, to fiction.
My first reaction was to devour the stack of novels checked out of the library, and then I started scouring the shelves of my apartment for favorites from years gone by. I re-read a few and discovered others that were never read, and happily gathered several that had been long forgotten.
I've spent the better part of thirty years feeling very embarrassed that I cannot adequately quote, remember, or explain Kierkegaard or Milton or Plato or Locke. And every year I promise myself that I will return to the texts and "learn" them once and for all.
But it occurs to me that "learning" them and actually "living" them...especially during a time of unprecedented chaos...just might be one and the same.
Life now (for me, anyway) is a constant contemplation of love and hate, of health and sickness, of control and surrender. It's mostly, though, a contemplation of faith. There's humility and sacrifice and fear to be sure, but underlying it all is a sense of calm that is based upon this rock-solid foundation of the "something" that is in all of those books on my shelf -- both fiction and non-fiction alike. There's something very comforting in the fact that far greater minds than mine have written and read these questions and answers for centuries. And, fortunately for me, they are as present in the novel as they are in the essay.
I suppose the literary purist would demand that I qualify the TYPE of novel that brings insight, but even a lighthearted book that brings nothing but escape has value to me at the moment.
Maybe I learned more than I realized?
My own writing is casual and about the daily life of a portly spinster who loves needlework, but in my own way, I think I am still trying to answer the same questions I did so long ago. My blog might not address an existential crisis in society or examine the real meaning of the greater good, but it does connect me to like-minded souls. And that connection is life-changing and life-saving, especially while in quarantine.
Thanks to this project, I've just spent a few minutes looking at my "PLS" shelves, and pulled my dog-eared copy of Don Quixote. I remember the absolute joy it brought me so very long ago. It will be interesting to see what the passing years have added to my reading of it, and how life has influenced what I will take away from the pages this time.
May God bless and keep you all during this time. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute, and for reminding me how fortunate I am to be part of the PLS family.
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