Column, Movie Diary

It’s the little things

You know you’re spending too much time at home when going to the grocery store not only sounds like fun, but actually gets you excited.

That’s the space I’m finding myself in after a year of working from home, not traveling, and spending my free time rummaging around my yard. The pandemic has worn us all down and despite my best efforts to stay sane, I am admittedly ready to explode because of the relentlessly repetitive cycle and confined nature of my life.

Whenever I find myself being irritated by a life circumstance, I try to think of someone who has it much worse than I do. I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself or your situation to others, but for me, it often helps bring whatever seemingly sorry mess I’m experiencing into better perspective.

For instance, if I’m feeling like the four walls of my house are closing in on me, I try to remember that I live in a spacious home with ample room to move about. And then I imagine the poor guy who’s sitting in solitary confinement somewhere in an 8’ x 10’ cell. And if I really want to drive the point home, I’ll go into my spare bathroom, shut the door, and ponder that my bathroom is more spacious than your average solitary confinement jail cell.

It is true that most solitary confinement cells are between 7-feet and 8-feet wide and 10 feet deep. That’s not much bigger than a spare bathroom or horse stable and just a little larger than a good-sized elevator.

So, imagine spending between 22 to 24 hours in one of these confined spaces with zero human contact (other than the hand that slides your food through a slot in the cell door). If you’re lucky to get out once a day, it’s into another slightly larger outdoor space with no recreational equipment, while likely wearing restraints.

Of course, these lovely “restrictive housing spaces” (as the authorities prefer to name them) have all the amenities of home, with a bed, toilet, sink, and desk cramped together. Some people imagine that solitary confinement prisoners spend all day reading books, watching television, listening to the radio, writing letters, and creating artwork, but the reality is that those things are quick to disappear in the event that an inmate breaks a rule.

And it’s pretty easy to break a rule when your mental health is being tested.

The United Nations has stated that no person should be held in isolation for more than 15 days – anything longer will have negative effects on an individual’s psychological state of mind. And yet, there are countless prisoners in the United States and around the world who have been held in solitary confinement for months, years, and even decades.

Being held in such confined quarters for long periods of time will likely cause a myriad of mental health issues like depression, panic attacks, hallucinations, and paranoia. Ironically, these spaces will likely cause an inmate to become more violent (which is likely why they were in put there in the first place).

And it should come as no surprise that suicide and self-harm tend to be normal occurrences for people housed in such dire situations.

So, after I sit in my bathroom contemplating how I might entertain myself for 23 hours, it occurs to me that my current situation (pandemic and all) is not that bad and, in fact, I should consider myself lucky that I am afforded the life that I have.

The next move I make is to drive to the grocery store where I suddenly experience the aforementioned feeling of elation. I roam the aisles with a carefree attitude, happy music pumping through my ear buds as I frivolously load my cart with food, making sure I smile at everyone I pass (even though it’s hard to tell if they’re smiling back since there’s always a mask covering their face).

I also had another feeling of elation recently when I discovered a website (with an accompanying YouTube channel) called Omeleto that I want to share with you. So, instead of recommending a film this week, I’m recommending that everyone visit Omeleto.com because I haven’t seen this level of quality filmmaking in a long time.

Omeleto is basically a repository and promotion platform for short films, usually between 8-15 minutes long. And these aren’t just any short films – they’re Oscar-level mini-movies that are breathtakingly creative, humorous, and emotionally moving. I happened onto one selection by chance over the weekend called “Reception” and spent the majority of my free time afterwards watching dozens more.

I can’t emphasize enough how well-made and beautifully crafted these films are and how enjoyable it was to watch such quality acting, writing, and direction come together in such striking and fulfilling little packages.

Check this site/channel out if you love film. It will remind you that the art form is far from dead.

A perspective-shifting “A” for Omeleto.com.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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