Quiet Desperation

Let’s all not get together and think about this time


Stay at home, isolate, avoid crowds such as parties, concerts, athletic events, parades, weddings, funerals, and limit physical contact with non-household members.


I have been doing just that for the past 17 years, ever since I retired from teaching.

This is, for me and for many other introverts, business as usual.

In normal times, I have been viewed as a humbug: that older man on the block who lives alone and rarely socializes with neighbors or anyone else.

And now?

“The folks are as good as the people,” as my father used to say.

My lifestyle, which works wonders for me, is being imposed on others who may not be faring as well.

Andreas Kluth, writing for Bloomberg Opinion, said, “The modern world in normal times belongs indubitably to the extroverts.”

He added, “Extroverts need other people.”

While I need help with my teeth, taxes and sprinklers, I’m fine otherwise, working at home, and limiting physical contact to Harry, who insists that I hide while he seeks, and that we culminate in a heap on the floor together.

I knew when I was in high school that a day might come — I hoped it would — when I could both hide and communicate (to paraphrase D.W. Winnicott), and it came, as I said, when I retired.

I once wished for a rural life, distant from others, but that wish, fortunately, did not come true.


If I were to live in the middle of nowhere, help, if needed, would be hard to come by.

I am often asked why I live where I do because Highlands Ranch is thought to be a bustling community, rich with family options and activities, recreation centers, gathering sites, bike paths, and parks, and I utilize none of them. Not one.

“Craig, you don’t bustle.”

True. But I have a house that would have been unaffordable in other parts of metro Denver, and in Denver, when I was house shopping.

Kluth summed me up: “Introverts are drained by the random noise of small talk, fatigued by the fluid kinetics of a cocktail party, dazed by people speaking before they think in allegedly creative brainstorming sessions.”

I guess I could be called a snob, but it’s not true. I simply try to avoid quantities of people.

As much as I love baseball, I may not attend another game. The pace of a baseball game allows spectators too much time to do other things.

Yak to each other, talk on the phone, come and go, take selfies. The game itself is of secondary importance.

I want to make it clear that I am not gloating because everyone else is now forced to do what I choose to do.

Extroverts need people, and I want to see that they get them. It would mean, for one thing, that this hard-to-imagine period of time in American and world history is behind us.

Great day in the morning.

I wonder: Will there be unexpected self-discoveries among extroverts during these weeks and months that will lead to a change of encampment, to my side of the aisle?

As Kluth stated, it worked for John Keats and Isaac Newton. And I would add the boy who gave the title — “Quiet Desperation” — to this column. Henry David Thoreau.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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