The goal is never just to come through, it is always to come through better.
And that’s the attitude you ought to take into the period of uncertainty and inactivity created by government reactions to the coronavirus. You don’t just want to endure it, you want to learn from it. You want to end it better than you began it.
One of the keys to that will be making it more than a Netflix bender. The governor said you couldn’t go to work, he didn’t say you had to vegetate. You have a couch and you have a hind end, but those two things don’t need to grow attached.
Your first efforts should be practical. You should think about different directions this all could go, and how you can be better prepared for each.
For example, if you have a yard, you should make plans for putting in a large vegetable garden. Even if all you have room for is a planter or two, growing some of your own groceries could be very helpful as we enter the era of empty supermarket shelves and limits on the food we can buy. A good-sized garden can go a long way toward feeding your family and friends, and reducing the stress on the grocery supply chain. Perhaps you could even produce enough for sale or barter, which could prove useful if we hit the 30% unemployment which has been predicted.
There are plenty of free online tutorials on gardening, as well as places you can order seeds.
You may also want to keep your eyes open now for canning supplies, and practice a little bit, so that you will be able to preserve your harvest for later.
Likewise, you can reduce your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Prepared foods are harder to get, more expensive and not as good for you. Being able to cook is an acquired and increasingly rare skill. Fortunately, it is easy to learn, and traditional sources – like the Betty Crocker cookbook, in print or online – offer easy, delicious and inexpensive recipes for simple, staple foods.
Cooking is also something that anyone in the family can do or help with. That means the kids can be part of it, to great benefit for them and the family.
Times like these are also good times to draw closer to your faith. You should pray, and read the scriptures. Try the New Testament or the Koran or the Book of Mormon – to strengthen your faith, or to learn more about your neighbor’s faith. Either way, you’ll probably be better for it.
This can also be a time for growing your mind. There are any number of online courses you can take, and many of them – including the excellent Khan Academy – are free. Learn a new skill, pick up some knowledge, or review what you’ve forgotten since high school or college. YouTube offers countless tutorials on every imaginable subject.
You could also use the free time to write your life history, or research your family tree via sites like Ancestry.com. Or you could sew, or crochet, or paint a picture. Or use social media to be truly social. Instead of arguing politics – block everyone who is rude or bothersome to you – reach out to relatives and friends and coworkers. See how your pals from high school are doing, check on the far-away cousins. Write letters, even if they are e-mail. Look at people’s pictures, and post some of your own.
And have fun. Plan and post some sort of funny quarantine video, by yourself or with your family, and try to put a smile on somebody’s face – even if only onscreen.
Remember to take care of your body. If you can get out for a hike or a run, do it. If you are unable to get out, look up an exercise routine or some calisthenics online and do something every day. And count your calories, to help you avoid gaining weight while you’re holed up, and to make your food go as far as it can. Along those lines, don’t waste any food. Eat it all.
Nobody knows how long the government will shut us down. Nobody knows the impact that will have on our economy or long-term prosperity. We don’t know if the kids will go back to school this year – or even next year. We don’t know anything.
Except that we are not helpless. And that smart people make the most and the best of every situation. Including unprecedented situations like this.
We need to be practical and serious about preparing ourselves for whatever might come. We need to conserve our resources, and to produce whatever additional resources we can. We also need to tend to our soul, our mind, our body and our need for companionship. We must take care of ourselves, and as many others as we can.
And see the opportunity in adversity.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself, don’t focus on the negative, don’t bitch on social media. Stand up, take responsibility, have some faith and optimism, and make the most of this.
Resolve to be a better person at the end of this than you are at the beginning.