“The whole world is at sixes and sevens and why the house hasn’t fallen down about our ears long ago is beyond me.” So says the omniscient maid, Sabrina, in the opening scene of Thornton Wilder’s 1942 Pulitzer-winning play, “The Skin of our Teeth.”
The show is about the never-ending vulnerability—and the resolute endurance—of the human race. The play’s three acts take place during an ice age, a great flood, and a horrific war. Were there a fourth act, a pandemic would fit right in.
Of late, lines and scenes from “The Skin of Our Teeth” sometimes echo through my head. (I was in the play as a child.) But such reveries feel like a luxury, because what’s often happening in our heads is the news of violence. Of scary health threats. Of disunity and anger and, above all, unprecedented uncertainty.
My wish for myself, and for all of us, is some silence. Stay informed and make your statements. But then turn off the noise. Seek the stillness—and listen to it. Create something of beauty, however esoteric or secret or temporary. After all, most of us are mostly stuck in place with some extra time on our hands.
Some day in the future, when we have returned to our busy, self-important routines, we may look back longingly at this unscheduled BreakAway.