I figure it’s only a few days before we are all ordered to stay home because of the pandemic. Just so you don’t have to spend 24/7 watching the news and the numbers increase when the lockdown happens, I’m suggesting a top 10 list of things to do at home during this time of coronavirus.
1. Clean – If your office is anything like mine, things have been piling up for years. I don’t mean just dust particles on the back of the bookshelf. There are magazines and journals only those of the hippie generation would recognize. There are student papers from classes taught twenty years ago. There are old letters from friends long since deceased and yellowing with age. There are enough pens and pencils to outfit a small school. And the address labels from every non-profit looking for my monetary support would fill a suitcase. Clean it up! It’s spring cleaning! And remember, lots of other things can go on the curb beginning April 1.
2. Do a Puzzle – Jigsaw puzzles are metaphors for life. You want to put all the pieces in the right place. It helps if you are able to assess at the very beginning what pieces you have, by turning them all over.
And if you can make an outline of your life first, get the boundaries set, that can help in filling in the middle. Heaven forbid you lose a piece. We want our life to be complete. Or make it a joint project. Others have pieces of our puzzle.
3. Family – Talk to your wife/husband. Seriously. When is the last time you talked about anything but what you were having for dinner. Talk to your children. Or write them a letter. Seriously. The kind of letter they get from the post office. Something they can treasure and read when they are old like you. If you have grandchildren, send them a crossword puzzle you make up with family history in it. They’ll love it, and it will keep them busy bugging their parents with questions.
4. Exercise – Just because you can’t go to the gym you can still exercise at home. There are lots of training videos on the internet. Walk up and down the stairs. Do isometrics. Walk at night when the lockdown cops won’t see you and nobody will be around to cough on you.
5. Eat – This is important and you have some choices. One alternative is to eat all your favorite foods. Stock up on chips, soda and ice cream to help you deal with your depression. Another option is to eat healthy to build up your immune system and your resistance. Or, you could develop a fast till the panic is over. It doesn’t have to be a complete fast, maybe just juices or soups, or maybe fasting from lunch; just eating breakfast and dinner and slimming down.
Editor's note: The Friends of the Library Book Sale (April 1-5) has been canceled. No decision has been announced on whether it will be rescheduled.
6. Read – I haven’t heard for sure whether the library is canceling the book sale scheduled for the end of the month.
If it isn’t cancelled, I will have to ignore the lockdown or social distancing or whatever it is to gather up my normal haul of books. Not that I need any more. Since confining myself more, I’m reading two or three at a time and discovering some wonderful finds on my bookshelves I’d forgotten were there
7. Nap – Find or make a place to sit and read where you are warmed by the sun on the back of your neck. When you get drowsy, put the book down and fall asleep. Nobody cares, even if you’re supposed to be working from home. Naps are good for you.
8. Write Poetry – I’m suggesting poetry because a novel takes a long time and nobody wants the pandemic to go on that long. Try poetry. Anyone can do the rhyming kind. It will keep your mind occupied and keep you away from the TV and computer and watching the news.
9. Smile/Laugh – This is important, probably as important as eating. Make an arrangement with a friend and call each other up once a day with a joke. Search out good jokes. Put a smiley face on the ceiling above your bed so it reminds you to smile when you wake. Stick smiley faces in odd places around the house. Laugh at the absurdities of life. If you don’t sing in the shower, practice laughing there!
10. Inner Life – In the institute I coordinate, we have a daily session of what we call “inner life”. It’s a time when we cultivate and deepen whatever spiritual or religious life we have. It incorporates silence for meditation and prayer, reflection on the wisdom from different traditions and cultures and an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with others. In the midst of a pandemic, we have an opportune moment to practice our own inner life. And instead of looking away or ignoring our reality, perhaps that spiritual discipline will allow us to look deeply into the meaning of this pandemic and what we might learn from it.
Perhaps instead of No. 10 to do at home, this should be No. 1.