Mar 312020

Two tenth floor balconies, eight feet apart. Two men doing their thirty day corona virus isolation.

Jack, returned from overseas. Girlfriend, Sophia, in hospital recovering from a leg amputation. She is a violinist who intuitively composes soothing music.

Mitch, released from jail and a year’s solitary confinement.

Both are disposed to talk. They are compatible.

Jack asks Mitch to help him get a feeling for the effect of isolation on the human spirit so that Sophia can compose soothing music for people in jail or in corona virus isolation or other challenging environments. Mitch agrees.

“What can I do?”

“You talk, I’ll type.”

“For starters. Lack of connection with people and life. Couldn’t see or hear or touch or smell people – couldn’t sense them, hear them laughing or crying or just making noises or breathing — couldn’t experience friendly pats on the back or hugs — couldn’t hear humanity’s sounds.

“Lack of contact with Nature – with the sky and clouds – with vistas of trees and horizons – with mountains and oceans and lakes and rivers and animals and everything that grows in the ground – with birds and animals, and especially with dogs and cats – with variable weather.

Is that enough to begin with?”

“Sure is. You’ve given us leads we can get stuck into.”

Balcony scene a week later

Jack, “I’ll summarise. We learnt a lot this week. People write and take lots of photos – and gladly share them. A girl doing a kindergarten course recorded twenty different sorts of sounds in different types of child care – and has sent them to us to use however we want. A scuba diver who is a professional photographer has sent us sounds – underwater, wind, seabirds, dolphins, whales, and a whole range of waves crashing onto shorelines down to wavelets coming into shore . A town planning student has recorded a wide range of city sounds – trains, buses, cars, crowds of people in shops, crowds on special shopping days, buskers, cathedral bells, building sites, vacuum cleaning and trolley pushing, sounds inside public transport. And lots more.”

Balcony scene ten days later.

‘Mitch, what do you think?”

“Played Sophia’s tape all through last night. She’s captured the wonders and joys and ordinarinesses of humanness. Had the best sleep ever. Didn’t dread waking up. I’m a person again.

I’ll try to get the prison authorities to allow everyone in solitary to listen to her tape as much as they like. If it could be played through the whole jail, if everyone released was given a copy to take away with them, if it could be sent to all Australian jails and remand centres, I reckon the rate of recidivism would be halved.”

“Mitch, I’ve had similar responses from one hotel housing Corona Virus isolationists – three isolationist homes – one busy childcare centre – two hospital emergency reception desks – a Centrelink office – a big retailer”. I’ll send copies for widespread distribution to the main Corona Virus oversight people.”

Friendships formed for life.