On a Time of Lockdown

What did you do during the lockdown? How did you spend your time? Did you finish that novel? Did you take up oil painting? Did you perfect making a soufflé? Did you at least clean out a closet or two?

The first victim of the sickness to die was a five-year-old boy in a village north of London. The doctors who examined him determined that he had indeed died from the illness. Not wanting to cause too much of a panic, the authorities began by strongly advising people to leave their work, and if possible, even leave the city and to go isolate somewhere safe. As the sickness began to spread and ravage the population, the suggestion to isolate turned into a governmental mandate to isolate. You are, of course, familiar with a lockdown.

One particular young university student, not wanting to expose himself unnecessarily, did not wait for the mandate. No, early on during the pandemic, he voluntarily returned to his family’s large rural house. He didn’t know how long the lock down would be, and he began to make plans to use the time in study as much as he could.

Instead of being frustrated by not being able to go to school and interact with his peers, the young student used the time to observe and contemplate nature and the world around him. He strolled through the fields, walked in the apple orchard across from his family’s home, and he convinced his family to allow him to turn part of one of the farm buildings into a makeshift work and study area.

Each of us used the past couple of years of the Covid lockdown in our own ways. Some sociologists have said that historians in the future will look upon the past two or three years as one of the greatest in human history, as far as personal reflection and artistic and literary achievements. They may be right. History has a way of putting societal anomalies like the Covid years into proper historical perspective.

That certainly turns out to be the case with our young student on leave from college and lockdown on his family‘s farm about 60 miles north of his college in Cambridge, England. Some historians indeed point to those two years in isolation as some of the most important years in all of modern scientific history.

You see, it was during those two years in lockdown from the Plague that Isaac Newton began developing his paradigm-breaking theories.


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