It’s an ill wind that blows no good
Our brave new world includes words like COVID-19, pandemic, paranoia, panic, social distancing, face masks, no handshaking, the new death count, herd immunity, the infected, quarantine, hunkering down, sheltering in, flattening the curve, shutdowns, furloughs, laid off, unemployment, containment, PPE’s, ventilators, respirators, testing, swabs, and hoarding. Have I left anything out? I’m sure I have.
But as my father would always say “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”
Indeed working from home presents challenges. Most families are now faced with the need to balance multiple roles of working, parenting, teaching, entertaining kids all in the same space and at the same time. Well, good luck, folks! But as productivity plummets and as tempers rise let us take a peek at the obvious good that has emerged amidst all this worry and all this sickness.
1) Safer streets: For the first time in perhaps 25 years I can cross Hillside Avenue in Williston Park without fear of being run over by a car going 45 mph in an effort to beat out the yellow light. I am sure you’ve noticed how few cars are on the road. This also means that it only takes me 10 minutes to get to work rather than 20 minutes. And I’m not alone in my joy over this. I have noticed how the animals seem to be coming out of hiding. I have seen rabbits hopping around my neighborhood. Who knew we had rabbits around here?
2) The joy of walking: People are no longer working out in gyms so many have taken to long walks around the neighborhood. This reacquaints us with the infinite pleasures of walking, something written about by Virginia Woolf, Herman Hesse and Henry David Thoreau. You don’t have to be walking down Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea or the Via Vittoria Emanuela in Capri to enjoy nature. Any quiet street on Long Island affords you a view of the spring sky with its white clouds, the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of birds in the trees. These are the many small pleasures that life offers up free of charge.
3) Rest time, nap time, free time, slow time: The miracle of our current shutdown is that it has provided a much-needed break for every harried American soul. I work with professional athletes and they are uniformly telling me how much they appreciate the chance to rest their bodies and to actually spend real time with their families. I think nearly every American I know has been in a state of overwork and over activity for the last 30 years.
This is due to the success of capitalism and the irresistible power of all the dazzling goods and services it provides. We see all this stuff within reach, but the disconcerting fact is that you have to earn real money in order to afford all these things. But now as capitalism has been temporarily shut down there is not much to buy and not much to do. So we rest. And with rest comes peace, calmness, better sleep and mental and physical health.
4) Home projects: We now actually have time to address all those home projects we have postponed for years. I’ve wanted to replace the eight windows in the rear of my home with stained glass ones and I finally had the time to get an expert in and do the job. I’ve also had a few extra hours to complete a book proposal I have procrastinated about for three years. I am certain you are experiencing the same thing. There is finally some time to clean things up and create something new.
5) Family life: We now have a chance to actually spend time with our kids and they have time for us. Some kids are even experiencing a thing call dinner-time whereby the parents cook a meal and then the family gathers together at one table, sits down and eats a home cooked meal. Then they engage in this new thing called dinner conversation. Yikes! This is a throwback to Luddite times.
These five gifts are just a taste of how humans have adapted and how we have found some goodness among all this uncertainty and fear. So enjoy your next walk and be on the lookout for Peter Rabbit.