Thoughts on Being Locked In, Having Been Locked Up

Finding contentment within confinement

Confinement is no fun. Nobody likes being told they need to stay somewhere, alter their routine, and limit their movements and interactions with others. There's something inhuman about it, even un-American about it. After all, this is the country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But sometimes, for our own good, or the greater good, we are forced to do things we don't want to do. This is one of those times. I have been told the world will be a tiny bit better place if I remain confined in my home for the next few weeks. 

Each morning, the whole of Episode Four gathers virtually for coffee. Although it's a group with broad expertise and experiences, it recently dawned on me that, based on my own life experience, I might be able to help others process our current confinement. Why? Because I spent seven years confined in federal prison. I was there because I made some mistakes in my youth, but now, as Episode Four's office manager, I'm fairly well equipped to offer a unique perspective on our current "self-quarantine."

In a sense, I have been prepped to be a loner through being incarcerated, but I can honestly say that I am uneasy given our current situation, not because of the confinement but due to the uncertainty of the threat we face and what the future holds. I certainly enjoy the company of others, but I don't crave it. 

Confinement really isn't bad if you have not just what you need but what makes you content. That might include books, electronic devices, personal enclosed spaces, beds, loved ones, pets, etc. These things that we find peace in are the things that will keep us sane through this confinement period. 

My advice would be to try not to burn yourself out on just one thing, no matter how fun it is or how much pleasure it brings. Mix it up. Use exercise and a range of activities; it will break up the time and occupy the hours throughout the day. I have had to manage long periods of time, hopefully much longer than this will be, and the best way of doing this is the most primitive. Try to find a tranquil state. I find that limiting the amount of time spent with technology is the number one way to do that. With everything happening so rapidly these days, your body and brain will love the reduced pace of activities and having to process information.

I think the idea of normality for everyone is far-fetched. My normality is that I still deal with confinement issues to this day. This situation isn't nearly as tough to deal with as it was when I was hundreds of miles away from civilization with a population of individuals whom I did not want to interact with, not to mention the 30 days I spent locked up alone. Most formerly incarcerated individuals are in a rush to make up for the lost time. I am not. As my situation changes, I look at the changes around me from a different perspective and seek to have questions answered and the dots connected before I rush to rejoin what society had set forth as normality.

Remember, be patient, stay informed and stay indoors. Continue to focus on the big picture, that it will benefit us all to be confined. It will allow us to continue to be able to enjoy communicating with family, friends, colleagues while enjoying the things we have, no matter the quantity.

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Aaron St. Jean
Aaron St. Jean is office manager at Episode Four, a brand experience agency.

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