The book, "Are You Somebody?" is a memoir by the late Irish journalist Nuala O'Faolain, a wild and daring writer about Irish culture, feminism, and the movement in Ireland from narrow poverty to cultural openness that she witnessed during her lifetime.
She writes about a breakdown she had just before turning 40, after the deaths of both her parents and before she became sober. (She, like her parents, and most of her friends and partners, was an alcoholic.)
Here is her recollection of those last days before sobriety, which echo the feeling many of us have had during these oppressive days of life during the pandemics, now 5 months in.
"An aspect of being vulnerable is that you are very open. I used to lie on the bed and look at the sky as it very, very slowly got dark on summer evenings. There was a kind of perfection of melancholy. On Sunday mornings, or on Bank Holiday weekends, I had absolutely nothing to do but feel the quiet. In a way, I was with my self very fully. Afterwards, I used to miss the feeling of being held within pure, empty space."
Maybe you have found that the enforced solitude has been a strange kind of gift, helping you find your way to something beyond the identity with a self that is active and productive and ignorant of suffering. This is the formula for Zen practice, too. Sit still, feel everything, as far as you can bear it, and see what happens. Perhaps you, too, will feel held within the pure, empty space of this wondrous life.