While I Was With the Other Souls in Limbo

We and the invisible enemy.
Irene Schiff

In the Divine Comedy, Dante uses these words to depict the souls left in Limbo but, one could say, also to express the uncertainty, the fear, the feelings of apprehension about his journey. This is why this phrase can be used to describe the overwhelming emotions we all felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Incredulity, superficiality, fear, terror, hopes; perhaps a combination of many different emotions that overlap, intertwine, interrelate. Reason and feelings do not always go in the same direction and with such a striking world event, their dialogue appears even more uncertain and difficult. The last pandemic of similar importance was a century ago, so no one has a direct historical memory, not even our elderly, and this makes us feel even more unprepared, even more fragile. A spiral of psychological reactions has occurred. The first news was coming from China: deserted streets, work on pause but ... it was in China, so far away from us; our psychological defences were at rest. Then we had our first cases in Italy: often triggering a reaction of cynicism: "It affects only the elderly and those who already have other diseases." Then the growing: "It can happen to anyone! Not only "the others" but each one of us." We must all stay at home, close or radically change our ways work-wise and socially-wise even our family habits, consider ourselves all "enemies" because we are potential spreaders and contagious. This feeling became a collective sentiment but the ways we react are instead subjective. Collective problems, subjective reactions creating even more personal and social anxiety. 

Woman wearing a mask

Unfortunately, many have experienced the loss of loved ones. For many, there may be the loss of a job built with the sacrifices of a lifetime, for young people the fear of not being able to find one, then forced coexistence with the family, single people living alone, the care and culture of preparation of children for new schooling approaches, immediate learning of smart working and the various technologies relating to it. For others, the idea of how to spend the holidays which is necessary to rest physically and psychologically (when off-days were not used to maintain employment). The value of space and time that suddenly take on different meanings. Space is shrinking: our space is only in our home, being outside is forbidden. On the other hand, through Internet connections, one "enters" into the home of others and this, if among friends is normal, it is not so with work relationships. This creates a proximity between the psychological concept of public and private areas. And time? Time, on the other hand, has dragged on. How do we occupy our time if we no longer go to work, visit relatives or friends? How do we occupy children, especially the youngest ones, who no longer go to school? The pandemic has not only impacted our health and our economy, it has changed many of our points of reference, on which we based our sense of security. Everything happened in a short period of time. Common situations, different reactions. We can't change the past; we can't predict the future; how do we live in the here and now?

A lion




1) You are a spy; you always want to have
a) a weapon
b) an ally
c) a means of escape

2) Who would you like to be
a) Archimedes Pythagorean
b) Scrooge McDuck
c) Gladstone Gander

3) You made the most important decisions
a) on impulse
b) after thinking about it a lot
c) after consulting with others

4) When you hear the word “capital,” you think about
a) a vice
b) a city
c) a treasure

5) In the world, people are mostly
a) honest
b) dishonest
c) it depends on the situation they're in

6) Which predator would you like to be
a) a lion
b) an eagle
c) a shark

7) A friend of yours had a theft in their house; your advice to him
a) safer windows and shutters
b) anti-theft alarms
c) anti-theft devices linked to the police

8) You have to present your project to a particularly over-critical superior, you
a) do the presentation together with a colleague
b) take care of every detail to perfection
c) change your mind and don't do the presentation

9) The to-do list is getting longer and longer, you
a) do the simplest things first
b) do the most important things first
c) procrastinate

10) Your favourite hobby
a) with someone
b) alone
c) you don't have one

11) You're cheerful while your friend is thoughtful, you
a) are annoyed
b) leave
c) try to distract him

12) You've won a trip but you have to go with people you don't know; your first reaction is
a) fear
b) embarrassment
c) curiosity

13) You hear "pick-me-up", you think about
a) a friend who fell down
b) feeling low
c) having a desert

14) You gained weight
a) gymnastics
b) diet
c) no interest in the matter

15) After the pandemic experience, your ideal home is
a) near the workplace
b) in the open countryside
c) in an apartment building



Question A B C
1) 3 2 1
2) 2 3 1
3) 3 1 2
4) 1 2 3
5) 2 1 3
6) 3 2 1
7) 2 3 1
8) 3 2 1
9) 1 2 3
10) 2 1 3
11) 1 3 2
12) 1 3 2
13) 2 1 3
14) 2 1 3
15) 3 1 2



Perhaps out of self-protection, perhaps because you are doubtful of what's in the news, perhaps because information is sometimes contradictory, you tend to think that this is an exaggeration. You want to continue life with your habits and think that the measures taken have been excessive. You experience them as an imposition from above and you can't and don't want to accept them. To underestimate an opponent is not prudent, to face it with appropriate measures is more reasonable.

You fight with yourself; you have mixed feelings: fear/courage, anxiety/security, staying indoors/going out. You need to get back to work and not just for economic reasons: to see your friends, to move freely about. Think of people who live alone, young people who must return to group life, school, loved ones but also believe that precautions are necessary. You want a return to normal but with caution.

Masks, gloves, disinfectants. You stuck up on everything and, if you could, you would stay by yourself in an isolated place, far from everything and everyone ... but you can't! So, you feel anxious, scared and you look with suspicion and anger at those who are not wearing masks, those who approach you at less than 2 metres. Your fear is justified but you understand that we have to start going out again, that economic activities must resume. Courage is within you, so try finding it, you'll succeed. Fear yes, phobia no!

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