When I started counting the silver linings to our current global condition, the light itself was silver. It was the shimmery gray of dawn, and as I was turning over in bed, hoping to grab a few more minutes sleep, I noticed a lump beside me. I scooted my foot over and touched a shin. I sat up straight. Surprised.
I wasn’t used to having anyone in bed with me when I woke up. After double checking that the hairy leg indeed belonged to my husband, I snuggled next to him. “Wow. Waking up in the same bed as you. How long has it been since that happened?” Normally he’s out of bed (every morning) at 4:50 a.m. to work out, but our local gym had just closed.
He grunted and went back to sleep. I didn’t though. I was busy dreading the news I would read when I opened up my computer to the New York Times. There was so much to worry about—the stock market diving, a son not getting to finish his senior year in college at college, another son working in an office with people who could be sick, my small stock of toilet paper—but in that moment I decided to try to relish anything positive. And this new morning reality definitely counted as one.
Focusing on the good that comes out of tragedy doesn’t make me—or anyone I think—less worried or disturbed about those suffering. Rather, I think this is a very human response that helps us make it through bad times and keep our perspective on life.
I asked NextTribers to tell me the silver linings they were finding in their lives and the responses ranged from the very personal to the political. They generally fell into one of these categories. Did we miss anything?
No Dressing Up
“Yeah. PJs ALL day,” said Rebecca Nagy. I am completely down with this one. My laundry load has diminished because I wear only leggings and T-shirts these days. Mostly the same leggings and T-shirts. Ewwww. Also, I have saved money on clothes and make up, since right now, I’m buying almost nothing that won’t keep in my pantry for months. For any ZOOM calls, it’s just eyebrow pencil, concealer, and lip gloss. On a good day.
Joys of Working From Home
Yes, there are downsides to working from home (non-stop snacking at the fridge being one of them), but being released from cubicles and commutes is pretty powerful for most. “I worked from home every day in the 90s for four years but now it is a lot easier,” said Judi Newell. “Also, having my youngest daughter home who is an art student and watching her make and beimg part of her art projects. And lastly, having my kitty cats around me while working!”
New Appreciation for Relationships
A lot of us are packed together with children or parents, in a way we never expected to be ever. Yes, it can be frustrating, but if you allow for that, you can spend the time to make new memories. Karen Camire likes “coming together as a family instead of passing through [each other’s lives].”
“I’ve been teaching my 18-year-old son to cook (he’s a Gordon Ramsay fan so he’s teaching me a thing or two as well),” Lynn Power told us. Courtney Madrigal reported that she and her college-aged sons were playing bingo and doing puzzles. “I also get to hear my son playing the piano again,” she said, “which I have missed incredibly.”
Many of you are using the time to read more or take time for yourself. One woman I met (online) told me that she’s framing this time at home alone as a retreat, rather than forced confinement. “Your attitude can change everything,” she said. Sandy Mata appreciates “not feeling guilty about just sitting and reading, or taking a nap. And having a nice margarita mid-day because I don’t have to worry about driving.”
“I am more attuned to what’s going on outside my window,” said Lynn Shapiro, who attached a photo on Facebook of a rainbow she saw near her home in San Diego.
More Time for Long-Put-Off Projects
Many of my friends say their homes have never been cleaner (I can’t make that claim myself; just not my nature, much to the disappointment of my husband.) Lots of projects are getting done, many of which involve photographs, I’ve noticed. “I’ve been feathering my nest!” Beth Schrader said. “It’s taking a complete rearrangement of things on my walls to incorporate art and family photos from my parents’ home. I never would have stayed with it if I had my usual means of avoidance!”
Using emissions-detecting satellite images, the New York Times reported “huge declines in pollution over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta.” Social media has been full of pictures of dolphins swimming in the clean(er) canals of Venice. This is all very hopeful, and it will be extremely interesting to see what patterns climatologists find in Earth’s resting period. And because I’m thinking positively, I’m hoping that any changes are more than temporary.
The Bigger Perspective
I truly appreciate the people who have pointed out how lucky we are to go through this disaster in the technological age. It’s made me stop myself when ever I start to whine. OK, not every time I want to complain, but many. Pat Reed pointed out how many resources we have at our fingertips today that were not available a generation ago. “Facetime, Skype, ZOOM, online books, books on tape, THE INTERNET!!!!, Netflix, virtual yoga classes, virtual ANYTHING!! Endless ways to connect, and grocery stores are stocked. I’ve seen posts about Ann Frank and what her family endured for more than two years. This is a cake walk when you put things in perspective.”
Probably my favorite comment comes from Diane DeVoto, who says simply that her silver lining is “seeing there are more good than bad people.” I think when you’re looking for good you will find more than you ever thought. I’ve witnessed small acts of kindness in the grocery store—such as a woman buying a young mother two cartons of eggs because the store was limiting the number of cartons each person could purchase. And of course we’ve seen it on a bigger scale, with the healthcare workers who are putting this national emergency before their own safety. God bless them.
Keeping all these silver linings in mind helps me sleep better at night, and makes me cherish waking up with company even more.