During this difficult time of pandemic, it can sometimes be hard to feel much joy. We focus on how we can’t see our children, parents, grandchildren, siblings or other relatives or friends and feel so sad. Because we need each other, this is especially hard for all of us. But as long as Covid-19 is still infecting and killing people around the world, we must keep ourselves and our loved ones out of danger. So that means saying no to large family gatherings, no to weddings, no to funerals, no to Thanksgiving dinner with family and most likely no to Christmas dinners with loved ones.
So what should we focus on instead? Exercise is a good activity to do. Most everyone can benefit from going outside for a walk, for example. But once you come back home from doing that, don’t plop down in front of the TV. Instead, feed your brain. How about you take this time to read more books, both fiction and non-fiction? I have read an average of three books every month this year and have discovered some great reads thanks to recommendations from book group friends and the goodreads.com app (www.goodreads.com). For example, I read When All is Said by Ann Griffin. It is an older Irish man’s look back over his life as he toasts five people he has known in a local bar. Wow. This book moved me to tears and that rarely happens. Now I am reading The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate–Discoveries from a Secret World. Now that I have read about two-thirds of this non-fiction book so far, I can tell you I will never look at trees or forests again in the same way. Did you know trees and fungi help each other thrive via a massive underground “world wood web?” Did you know trees give off toxins to get giraffes to stop eating their leaves and send warnings to nearby trees to do the same thing to ward off the giraffes?
And if you are not a book reader, did you know there are millions of free videos on YouTube about any topic that interests you? And once you start watching and liking certain topics, YouTube will recommend others that are similar for you to check out. I love watching the choral group Voces8. This is an amazing group of eight singers, two women and six men, who perform sacred and contemporary works with such beauty that it takes your breath away. Here is one example for your listening pleasure. This is The Road Home by Stephen Paulus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49Og75MrkV8.
To keep sane during this time of pandemic, I also suggest you minimize your input of news. Maybe limit your intake to 30 minutes a day. One day, life will get back to a new normal and fretting about everything while we muddle our way to that place isn’t helpful to your physical or mental health.
Another book I have decided to read to get the most out of this time of no family visits or airplane trips is The Bible. I am reading parts of it in a study group. I think that’s the best way to tackle it. We are reading the letters that Paul wrote. Several people in our group could name some or almost all of the letters he wrote. But I couldn’t think of any, even though I had heard of one of Paul’s readings about love at many weddings. This is is 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
The Bible is a book I can read and study from now until the end of my life because it covers a lot of ground, between the Old and New Testament. It is also the most read book in the world. And now that I have read Romans, I can understand where that saying, “The wages of sin is death,” comes from! I bet there are lots more sayings from The Bible and I look forward to discovering them. My only excuse for not reading The Bible sooner is that I had a chance to study The Bible as literature in college at Tulane University but the class on Shakespeare was offered at the same time. So I went with Shakespeare. When I read his comedies and tragedies, I discovered lots of sayings come from his works too, such as “All that glitters is not gold,” and “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
This last saying reminds me of Trump. Based on the polls, I am starting to feel hopeful that he will be badly defeated and American democracy will remain intact on November 3rd. In the meantime, I absentee voted for Biden-Harris to bring our country back from the brink of madness. All I can do now is wait and keep busy reading books and learning interesting things about our amazing world. I am hopeful that one of these days someone will develop a vaccine that will allow us to safely see our families once again.