I like to think that there are no clichés without fire. As an author, I’ve been coached (read commanded) by mentors and editors, to avoid writing clichés like the p l – g – e. (Nope, not going to give that word its full power).


And now, during our current Covid nightmare, clichés resurface as straws to cling to. Citing ‘light at the end of a long dreary tunnel’ is no longer a flippant remark. It is a beacon of hope. It is a positive mantra.

I’ve always loved seclusion. In days of old (barely a month ago) it meant a welcome respite from the anxieties of the world – a sanctuary infinitely more poetic than imposed separation.

In short, humanity is now cloistered. We are chastened… hastened back to our most familiar cloister – HOME.

In an effort to ‘ACCENT THE POSITIVE and ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE’, I offer are a few old world definitions that come disturbingly close to reality, and their counterpart words, meant to illuminate. Perhaps that ‘light at the end of the cloister’ may just be a new (more holistic) way to interpret an old word written in grey ink:

CLOISTER OLD: a covered walkway or tunnel-like hall, typically with a wall on one side and a colonnade open to a quadrangle on the other (we wish). A religiously observed harbour where initiates must live away from the world, required internment.

CLOISTER – GOOD: hideaway, sanctuary, refuge, a place to purposely and purposefully withdraw, a self-imposed fortress of solitude, a space for healing, to contemplate, restore beliefs, to revive and renew and refresh the spirit. A home hearth to shelter a family from harm.

CLOISTERED – OLD: confined, secluded from others, shut-in, separated from and communicating little with the outside world, sequestered.

CLOISTERED – GOOD: sheltered, protected, a safe haven, hearth and home, family unity, pulling together, a retreat, forgiveness, regrouping, a refreshing pause, intimacy, renewing ties, reaching out, reconnecting with loved ones, positive quarantine.

PLATITUDES – OLD: clichés, inanities, commonplace banalities, prosaicisms, old wives tales, tired expressions, vapidities, triteness, pointless, superficial, wistful, trivialities, fripperies, empty quotes, stopgap measures, feeble advice, whitewashing, band-aids, worn adages, flip sayings.

PLATITUDES – GOOD: inspirational, optimistic, hopeful, confident, meaningful, telling, eloquent, significant, deep, true, pure, profound, philosophical, insightful, thoughtful, reflective, deep-seated wisdom, deep-rooted insight, rich, evocative, perceptive, astute, prudent, mantras.

CONFINEMENT – OLD: imprisoned, forced, punishment, clinical, loss of willpower, forced captivity, limited, in custody, evacuation, incarceration, locked up in a cell, freedom denied, policed curfews, arrested, fear based, held under lock and key to safeguard the public.

CONFINEMENT– GOOD:  an opportunity for creative study and research, writing, painting, reading, craftwork, hobbies, conversation, correspondence, ashram, quality time for contemplation, soul searching, a chance to heal, the ultimate unselfish quarantine for the greater good. Accepting reduced restricted freedom with good heart, social distancing for the highest good, willingness to comply with medical expertise, self-isolation, positive collaboration, participating in the collective strategy to rid the world of a virus out of control, safekeeping, protection, guardianship, regulation, guidance, administration.

SOLITARY– OLD: alone, irrational fear, anti-social, insular, friendless, unaided, abandoned, deserted, by yourself, lost, blinkered, reactionary, withdrawal, alienated, excluded, pariah, reclusive, agoraphobic, exiled, separated, retained.

SOLITARY– GOOD: meditative, thoughtful, creative growth, nurturing, contemplative, togetherness, personal time, sabbatical, tighten family ties, downtime, private time, clarity, ideas, think tanks, sharing, planning, restorative, therapeutic, peace and quiet.

ISOLATION – OLD: imposed solitude, unwanted, judged, shunned, excluded, ignored, refugee, running away, rejected, lonely, hermitage.

ISOLATION– GOOD: a thinking space, time for restoration, refreshment, recreation, a necessary pause to regroup, renew family ties, atone, make plans, heal, gain strength, recuperate, upgrade skills, focused.

QUARANTINE – OLD: locked up, fearful, shunned, overlooked, disregarded, discounted, dumped, forgotten, segregated, detained, incarcerated, sentenced, set-apart, dehumanized, abandoned, deserted, imposed medical isolation… and the only way to stem a murderous outbreak.

QUARANTINE – GOOD: hospitalized, safe zone, resting place, conserve energy, unselfish, compassionate, considerate, caring, stability, curative, remedial, health-giving, beneficial, altruistic, civilized, charitable, selfless, humane, noble act, self-sacrificing, humane, connected, a wise precautionary measure… and the best way to heal and protect humanity from a murderous outbreak.

The ‘GOOD OLD days’ (a few months ago) are a distant memory. There’s never been a better time than now for POSITIVE CLICHÉS TO LIVE BY.