“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time …”
Sound familiar? William Shakespeare wrote that in an era when various plagues, pandemics and pestilences, both great and small, were a normal part of life in London, striking in 1592, 1603 and 1606. Public places including theaters would have to close, sometimes for months at a time.
(By the way, April 23 marked the 404th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, in 1616. According to the common reckoning, he was 52.)
Anyway, whether the line above, from “Macbeth,” was inspired by Shakespeare the playwright’s enforced idleness (although he wrote some of his greatest works, including “King Lear” and “Antony and Cleopatra,” during such lockdowns), or Shakespeare the theater owner’s loss of income, we can relate.
And we are no Shakespeare (as you can verify simply by reading this column) but we can feel his pain. In this era of the coronavirus — our modern version of the plague — millions of adults are staying home from work and millions of children are being kept home from school. Economic hardship and cabin fever have both set in.
When will it end? We have no idea, although there will be some slackening of Gov. Ned Lamont’s restrictions on Wednesday, affecting restaurants, offices, hair salons and barbershops, retail stores, outdoor museums and zoos. (Zoos? Zoos.)
But the months of social distancing and isolating at home feel like years. Surely this will be over by the summer, or at least before school starts back up in the fall.
But will it? School and college administrators would like to think so, as would we all, but they are having to make plans for the worst case: the possibility that in-person teaching may not return in the fall, and online teaching may still be in effect.
This shutdown of normal life has been hard on everybody, but maybe hardest on high school seniors, who will not be able to enjoy the proms and the graduation ceremonies that have always been part of the high school experience.
And now some of them, those who are planning to move on to college, may find themselves still staring at a laptop in their bedroom in the fall, instead of meeting their fellow freshmen on campus.
Maybe not since World War II, when legions of students went straight from high school into the armed forces, has this transitional time of life been so widely disrupted.
The governor has repeatedly said that reopening Connecticut will be done in a phased and fact-based manner, and that one key fact he will consider is the rate of coronavirus infection in the state, as revealed by increased testing. He must also consider the projections by experts that there could be a second wave of the pandemic coming in the fall, and that it could be worse than the first wave.
The governor has some tough decisions to make, and saving lives has to be his first consideration. But September still feels a long way off.
We can only hope that things will be more nearly normal by then. Meanwhile, whether this will turn out to be
a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing
will depend, in large part, on all of us.
Reach Glenn Richter at email@example.com.