Monday, August 10, 2020

In Limbo

Annamaria on Monday

I took the picture above this past February, on a lovely visit to an art fair in Bologna.  Little did I know then that soon the happy Italians around me would be on lock down, and major portions of the world population would find it self in Limbo.

That's where I have been since mid-March.  And Limbo is where I must remain.

Everyone, these days, understands limbo to mean a wait state, a kind of suspended animation.  But its original meaning was more complicated, and that original meaning has relevance to my situation in 2020.  In Catholic School, I spent years studying the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, who was the first proponent of concepts, based on Aristotle, that are familiar to us all.

Dante made Aquinas's three states of the afterlife famous:

    Inferno: A place of the eternal damnation where unrepentant sinners spend eternity in intense suffering.

    Purgatory: A place where souls who have committed sins but who have repented go to expiate their guilt and be purified before entering Paradise.  The length of one's stay depends on the gravity of one's sins.

     Paradise: A place where the saved, those who are free from guilt and have been baptised as Christians, go to enjoy eternal bliss.

But Thomas had a problem.  His religion (which is no longer mine) was based on the belief that Christ's suffering and death opened the gates of Paradise to human souls.  But what about the Prophets of the Old Testament?  Or newborns who died before they were baptized?  What about good and pure souls who lead exemplary lives but never even encountered Christianity.  Where did they finish up?

Hence the invention (discovery?) of:

    Limbo: the place where worthy souls wait until The Last Judgment, where--at the second coming of Christ--all the souls not yet rewarded with bliss or condemned for all eternity will be judged and then sent one way or the other.

Originally, Limbo was not meant to be place where the good souls suffered.  It was, as I learned anyway, just a wait state.  The souls were waiting for an elevator they knew would be going up.

Limbo here on Earth comes with no such guarantee.  And so, in me at least, it produces the agony of having to wait.

I have always said I could stand anything if I knew how long it would last.

These days my wait states, two of them, have no known end.

The grip of Covid has robbed my world of almost all of its bliss.  A vaccine that would really stop the miserable virus would give me back my life.  But the estimates of when that up-elevator will arrive range from early next year (daunting) to four to six years from now (possibly unsurvivable).

On top of this, my publication career was already in Limbo when the Covid virus hit.  The disintegration of my relationship with my previous publisher put into Limbo the already completed next in my Africa series.  My agent's strategy, which I like very much,  involves the already written first book of a new series.  She has high hopes for it.  That book was just beginning to jump through acquisition hoops when Covid and the resulting economic tailspin put the publishing industry into its own version of Limbo.

So now, for me, Limbo has begun to feel like Purgatory.  When will the publishing elevator arrive?  And when it gets here, will it be going up or down?

I keep hope alive by communing with my imaginary friends.  That is, writing a third book to put into the pipeline.

What I REALLY want most right now, is the chance to buy a plane ticket.  To places where I can find the blissful state of being with friends. Or see a giraffe standing under a tree.  Or sit on my terrace in Florence with friends, drinking wine and enjoying the view.  Or just see a play.  Or go to the opera.  Or sit all evening in nice restaurant, just relaxing with a someone interesting.

In the meantime, I am hanging on to this image of the real me.  For dear life!

1 comment:

  1. I love the real you, Sis, and there is life after Limbo. We just have to keep the faith that we'll make it under the ever lowering bar.