Like many reading this, I suspect you are nearly overwhelmed by the negativism accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a pessimistic time and for many the psychological damage is worse than the physical toll the virus is taking.
And so, I shelved what I was working on and decided to attempt an examination of what I would be seeing right now through the eyes of my late wife. She could make Eleanor Porter’s Pollyanna seem like a curmudgeon. I realized that Karen would not be letting all the barrage of media negativism, political bungling, and economic exigency get to her but rather would be looking for positive things happening in the midst of all this.
So first, I took a closer look at this business of social isolation which I realized from my own experience has been somewhat less than the term implies. Living alone without the ability to gad about the countryside for three years now is nearly normal for me.
The fact is I have heard from more friends and family in the last three months of my so called “isolation” than I had heard from in three years before. Thanks to articles in TST on-line with my email address and my work with the Sedalia Ragtime Archive, two old high school friends I have not heard from in nearly 60 years located me and wrote to say hello. What an email reunion we have had. Our lives diverged after high school and we just lost track of our friendship and the wonderful times we shared growing up. And then a first cousin I barely knew as a child got in touch. I have not seen him for over 60 years.
And so, I have begun to ramp up my own correspondence and am determined to reconnect with people I should never have let get so far from my life. Now this alone is a positive to be coming from our sequestering.
And then there is this matter of experiencing Spring and perhaps even more seasons for that matter. The other day my son walked over and visited with me from the driveway. He remarked that he had never really experienced Spring but rather worked through it only pausing for Easter and special occasions to really notice the changing seasons and the world returning to its palette of color He is outside every day now before his increasing virtual duties as a pastor. And he takes long walks through the surrounding neighborhoods.
And that is another positive from our current state of modified living restraints. Neighbors are getting acquainted as some walk by and engage others sitting on their porches and stoops reminiscent of an earlier age when people visited with sidewalk amblers this way. Some are meeting for the first time and they have lived within a spit and slobber of each other for decades. And as for this example I have not even referred to the physical exercise of simply walking more.
On the subject of exercise, many are now finding time to extensively use those expensive exercise machines gathering dust in a back room or some are now finding time to do old high school gym calisthenics to get and stay in shape. It is hard to shelter in place and not succumb to overeating, but the opportunities to work off the calories faster that we put them on is at least also there.
Getting in touch with old acquaintances and connecting with new ones is only one side of the connectedness that isolation brings. Families are discovering one another, and while living in constant close proximity can have its challenges, the benefits can be amazing. Families are discovering card and board games to pass time and I would imagine the mail order board game business is soaring.
Having time to read a book or peruse a favorite magazine is another positive many are discovering during these long days at home. We have had quite a bit of stormy weather lately and there is nothing like a gloomy day to inspire a good read in a comfortable place. It is also likely, if several are reading in the household, that some lively discussions will emerge about what has been read.
I note another plus from all this time at home. Spring cleaning is taking on a whole new meaning as homes are getting a really thorough scrubbing. I have already been contacted several times by people who have discovered stashes of old music and records while cleaning out basements and attics. And this is also a great time to organize all those old rediscovered mementos and objects. They were important enough to save, so now is a good time to remember why.
Our quarantines are also causing many to find ways of working from home and to the surprise of many, productivity can actually be higher there than in a workplace. Though it is certainly not applicable for all, many who would have never attempted working from a distance are finding it has many advantages.
And the upswing in virtual learning is of particular interest to me. I have been a convert to virtual learning for some time now and have come to realize that with proper training and guidance, the delivery of education with the new technologies can be far superior to brick and mortar, face to face classroom instruction. I can hear the gasps even before I submit my copy but many right now, out of necessity, are discovering I am right.
This has also brought virtual medicine out of the third world and into ours overnight. I have a friend who has a daily virtual medical consult by means of his laptop and several sophisticated devices that record and transmit vital signs. Now a whole team of health care providers can monitor a patient every day and make suggestions for care. The best part is that patients will not have to be exposed to all the contagious diseases transmitted by viral petri dishes we call hospitals, clinics, and medical buildings. And this protects the medical providers as well.
I am beginning to wonder if music and the fine arts may have also found new opportunities for revenue by tapping the hitherto free Internet venues to provide private concerts and programming opportunities. I have been concerned for some time that artists were contributing to our entertainment without proper compensation. A free Internet is a wonderful thing until it robs creative and talented people of their right to earn a living. I have seen some highly creative examples of musical performances and presentations since the lockdown. Many are discovering venues for this intimate personalized on-line programming that would not work for a public performance.
And now to write about what is perhaps my favorite example of a positive to come from our period of social isolation. The planet is getting a kind of rest it has not had for generations. Fewer cars on the roads mean cleaner air and less pollution means safer air for us all to breathe. Wildlife is recovering from our constant intrusiveness. This year I have honeybees on my blossoms for the first time in over a decade. Our limited sociability must be doing wonders for these most social of creatures. I even read that the earth seems to be wobbling less on its axis and that the ozone layer may actually be starting to recover.
Space limits my further expounding on the long-term positive impact of the pandemic’s restrictiveness, but I will close by remarking that the world will certainly never be the same…and that can be a good thing.