The Pause That Depresses

Michael Maupin
4 min readNov 24, 2020

Looking back on my decade of loss during a global pandemic

Gratitude to Minnesota artist Beth Bowman for use of her image.

“It’s the pause that refreshes!” — early Coca-Cola slogan

Here’s the marching orders I got from Glenn, a fellow writer: “So you don’t want to write. And you say you don’t want to write about COVID-19. Why then don’t you just write about not wanting to write about the coronavirus?”

— Hey! You got peanut butter in my chocolate!

— You got chocolate in my peanut butter!

Of course I’ve been inactive here on Medium since the year began, when I wrote this chirpy piece back in January. I still stand by it, but sometimes a metaphor that works about optimism and ambition (bowling) doesn’t work for clinical depression and pandemics (The Hunger Games). What was the big deal? Wasn’t I a writer already, after many years in the business? (And by that I mean, yes I did make money from my writing.) Did I forget that I had my own voice? Was I doubting I had any authority to write about anything whatsoever?

Yes, yes, and yes!

But wait a minute: at least I could take a shot at answering Glenn’s question, “Why not write about not wanting to write about this insanely terrifying global pandemic we’re all going through?” because I knew what was upsetting me about it in the first place.

It was this:

I’ve been living with social distancing and isolation for over ten years now.

It really starts to get to you after, oh, year five. Within a decade you completely doubt your ability to relate to anyone whatsoever. I passed that milestone in March, when most of us first went into lockdown.

But this year has had its share of good news: few of the friends or family members I know who tested positive for COVID-19 (and had all the symptoms across the range we’re currently aware of) were hospitalized or died of it (one of my oldest friends lost his older brother, who had high morbidity due to other conditions). I consider myself (and those I love) very lucky indeed. I follow the protocol: mask wearing, hand washing, people distancing, remote working. As I mentioned to a friend, my rationale is I can’t know the sort of “party” the coronavirus is gonna…

Michael Maupin

Writer, editor, and media maker. Blogs at Completely in the Dark ( and lives in Minneapolis, MN. I notice things.