With so many people suffering because of the coronavirus, it's natural to feel anxious, unhappy, even depressed. But I'm finding that the isolation and altered routine caused by Oregon having a Stay Home, Save Lives order has some bright spots.
Sure, I no longer can go to Tai Chi classes. Nor can I go to our athletic club. Meeting a friend at a coffee house is a no-no. I still go grocery shopping once a week, but wear a mask and gloves. The dog park we used to enjoy is closed.
So much is different now. Along with many millions of other people, I've been cast out of the activities that were so familiar to me, I took them for granted. Now that they're gone, I realize how precious they were.
But like a handful of flowers blooming in a otherwise stark desert, other things in my daily life now stand out, because the mental backdrop that used to be filled to overflowing with busyness -- time to go here, then there, and after that, another here-and-there -- has become a largely blank canvas against which small things are showcased.
A few examples...
-- Standing in the checkout line at a store where I'd perused the completely empty shelves where toilet paper once was stacked high, I noticed a bundle of toilet paper in the cart of the woman in front of me. Ah, Seventh Generation, I said to myself. That would be in the organic/health food section of the store.
And so it was, on a bottom shelf, a place where most shoppers wouldn't think to look for toilet paper. Returning to the checkout line, the cashier said, "Ah, I see you found the secret place." "Yes," I told her, "but we must speak softly to keep the secret." Returning home with the precious toilet paper, I felt as proud as if I'd killed a saber-toothed tiger and brought it back to the cave.
-- When I'm out and about on an essential trip to a grocery store or pharmacy, I enjoy driving to the Starbucks nearest to where we live. I can't see how many cars are in the drive-through lane until I turn into the Starbucks parking lot, which now, of course, has few cars, since coffee houses and restaurants are limited to takeout only.
Sometimes so many cars are in line, I feel it isn't worth it to join the queue, especially if I have cold or frozen groceries in the car. But when I enter the parking lot and see only a few vehicles in the drive-through lane, a burst of happiness explodes in my brain. When I hold up the Starbucks app on my iPhone for the barista to scan the bar code that pays for my Grande Decaf Nonfat Vanilla Latte, I enjoy the brief encounter with a coffee house amployee that I used to take for granted.
-- My wife walks our Husky mix, Mooka, in the morning. I walk her in the late afternoon. This has become the most important item on my otherwise mostly empty calendar. Sometimes my wife says, "I can walk Mooka if you don't feel like it." "Oh, I sure do feel like it," I tell her. "This is a high point of my day." Even though pre-coronavirus, I have to admit that sometimes it felt like an unwelcome chore.
We live in the country, about five miles from town. There's a two mile loop on curvy roads that Mooka and I go on every day. It has some fairly steep hills, ups and downs, so the loop is a good alternative to the elliptical trainer that I used to use at our athletic club three days a week, while I watched one of the televisions. Now I watch real life, 3-D life.
Today a neighbor was herding her goats down the road to another neighbor's home, apparently to have them munch in their pasture. Mooka was transfixed by the sight. She's a curious dog. This was her first sight of goats on a road. It was a special moment for dog and human. Not a big thing, just a small thing that created considerable joy for both a canine and a Homo sapiens.