Keep sight of the silver linings

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/27/20

Very suddenly, I felt it.

And it felt something like...despair.

I’m not used to that.

We were in the middle of watching the evening news — something I’m doing every night now, in …

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Keep sight of the silver linings

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Very suddenly, I felt it.

And it felt something like...despair.

I’m not used to that.

We were in the middle of watching the evening news — something I’m doing every night now, in addition to the many other ways I’m constantly keeping up with rapidly moving COVID-19 developments — when I relaxed my tense body and sunk deeper into the recliner, took a long breath and exhaled slowly, and felt throughout my being as I performed these physical actions an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

I don’t think it was any one aspect of this overall horrible situation we’re all of us dealing with — no particular moment in the news coverage that night — that cemented this feeling. It was more likely the totality of everything, all the grim news piled on top of all the other grim news.

As I remained in this reclined state of what, to any casual observer, would be considered comfort, inside my resting body my mind was anything but settled and still.

It reeled with scenarios of how this pandemic might play out and with questions to which the only answers I could reasonably supply only increased my anxiety.

Anxious isn’t an adjective I’d normally use to describe myself.

But these aren’t normal times.

Not even close.

So, anxious I’ve been, at least a bit.

And at that moment on the couch, I felt depleted.

I went to bed a few hours later, the feeling largely still present.

Anxiety can be can’t-get-out-of-bed paralyzing, but fortunately overnight my brain seemed to work things out.

The next morning — we’d set our clock for an early a.m. alarm to make a grocery run — and after coffee, I was back in git-r-done mode, or something closer to it, because that’s what we have to do.

Until we can’t, we will continue to do because, again, that’s what we have to do, even if we’re doing it while sheltered in place in this war that all of mankind wages against COVID-19.

Maybe it’s to keep that terrible feeling from recurring that I’ve been looking for silver linings.

Thankfully in my scanning the horizon, I’ve observed a few.

One is that in the span of only a few days, I reversed my wasteful habit of using too many paper towels. A month ago, a year ago, five years ago it would have been normal for me to routinely wash my hands and pull two paper towels off the rack, dry my hands, and throw the damp paper towel on the counter along with a pile of paper towels already used for the same purpose. Eventually, I would re-use them (to clean the counter, or wipe up a spill), but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t using too many paper towels too frequently.

Now, with a supply that is no longer easily replaced with a routine trip to the store, I’m using a mere fraction of the paper towels I once used to conserve.

It’s a personal silver lining that I’m being less wasteful.

I’ve read about aquatic life returning to the now-clear-water canals in Venice as tourism came to a halt in the midst of Italy’s overwhelming COVID-19 troubles.

A silver lining for our great Earth.

Social media, which I’ve grown increasingly less engaged with in the last few years, has a renewed meaning and purpose, keeping us connected as the very necessary practice of social distancing keeps us physically apart.

A silver lining that this gift of social media is giving better than ever now.

China, birthplace of the COVID-19 pandemic, is returning to normalcy as new cases of the virus slow.

A silver lining for us to see there is an end.

There are many silver linings if we look for them.

But silver lining means there’s still a cloud looming, and from here at this moment the cloud is still growing and there’s more darkness than silver.

No one promised us that life — with all its ups and downs, joys and pitfalls — would be easy, and right now it isn’t.

But there are silver linings and it’s important — vital, even — to keep them in our sights. The alternative, which is that sinking feeling I felt in my recliner the other night, isn’t a viable option.


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