What Are You Going To Do?

As I’m writing this many of us are stuck at home, effectively quarantined. It’s the Covid-19 virus, of course. The world seems to be in a panic.Many people seem to be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. But what are you going to do?

Panic seems to be consuming the world, at least if you listen to the media for long. And our political leaders must spend most of their time listening to the media and looking for ways to feed the panic. A great line in MIB is “a person is smart, people are stupid.”

People seem to be panicked because they are not “safe” anymore. As if they ever were. We are never safe and we never actually control our circumstances. You have a better chance of getting killed in a car wreck tomorrow than to get the virus. The illusion of safety is the unrealistic goal the media holds up and the fears of not being safe are what whip people into panic.

You’re stuck at home

So. you’re stuck at home for a while. You can’t go on with your normal routine. That’s great! Make some changes! Use this as a blessing. Do things for yourself. DO NOT spend your time panicking with the herd on social media or numbing yourself with hours of movies on Netflix. Take the opportunity to improve yourself and grow.

In an email, Srinivas Rao makes this observation: “he told me a story about a man in China who was quarantined for 40 days after contracting the coronavirus. The reporter interviewing him asked how he spent his time. And he told her

‘I’ve always been a terrible cook. So I learned to cook. I also taught myself another language.’

There’s a profound lesson in this story. Time and attention are precious resources. You can use them to consume content that continually stokes fear. Or you can use [them] to create content that fuels hope for yourself and others.”

This is an important observation. For me, I am going to double down on coming out at the other end of this session a better, wiser, more capable person.

Use the down time

Take classes. Study a foreign language. Read. Write. Create – begin to, even if you don’t think you can. Whatever it is that draws your interest, challenge yourself to get deeper in it.

For me, I am committed to pursue some personal projects with my art. I am also committed to learn and internalize several new photographic techniques that have intrigued me for a long time but I have never had the block of time available to really dig into them. I plan on reading several biographies and history books I have wanted to get to, as well as a fluffy fiction or 2, just for relaxation. Oh, and, I’ll admit, one of the big vices I have, watching Aussie Rules Football. It is the only sport I like to watch, and it may be the only one still being played.

Maybe you never thought of your self as a writer. But you can write to friends. Direct email them rather than using social media. Better yet, you know those pieces of paper with stamps on them? Do it. They would love to hear from you.

Be prudent, not afraid

I mentioned the fear that paralyzes many. So far what I observe validates the MIB quote I used earlier. While on the media I see panic and hoarding and people barricading themselves in their houses, I don’t actually observe that from normal people around me.

I just returned from traveling back and forth across much of the country to see family. We ate out at nice restaurants every day, went where we wanted to,Ubered, went through airports and flew in airplanes. I saw a very few (like 6) people wearing masks, none on the airplanes.

Today I went out for a nice walk in the afternoon. The weather was good and I walked down through a natural area by the river where I live. I was surprised and encouraged that the parking lot at the natural area was completely full. I couldn’t see an empty space. Lots of people were our walking, walking dogs, running, bicycling, etc. Families with little kids. Old people (old means older than me). And they were friendly and good natured and sometimes wanted to chat. It was great to see.

My wife went up to Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe today. She said it was very crowded for a Wednesday. Same thing. People were out enjoying nature and using their time well.

I am in one of the high risk groups for the virus, but I don’t huddle inside. I don’t believe in living that way. Safety is an illusion. Be prudent, but live a worthwhile life.

Your time is short – and precious

It seems that a learning from this is that we are only given a very short burst of time on this planet. We should consider every minute precious. We should do what we can every day to improve ourselves and help others. Develop the habit of being grateful for what we have and what we can do right this minute.

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