Little ‘Upsides’






The shutdown sucks. No two ways about it. Being inside for the best weather of the year with nowhere to go and nowhere fun open if I could go. Being out of work while so many businesses are shut down is stressful, too. The virus is enough on its own to cause panic; add the shutdown and the way the world is coping with it financially and politically is just too much at times. But what keeps me going is realizing how fortunate our situation is right now. For all of us.

My wife is pregnant. She’s due in June. She was planning on taking maternity leave in May, but it looks like the end of March is more realistic now that the restaurant where she worked is closed due to COVID-19. I’ve been working from home for the last few months anyway, and now we have extra time to spend together before the baby gets here. We soon won’t have much time for just the two of us, or even just for ourselves individually and, while this forced shutdown is troublesome and stressful, it’s an opportunity to spend time together that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

My friends are home and available to play video games online all day, something I’m sure I won’t be able to do in three months. My family is easily accessible by FaceTime because nobody is out on the floor of a shop or locked in a laboratory. Do you know how hard it is to get a JPL engineer, a paleontologist and a scuba dive instructor together on a weekday? Impossible. But because of the shutdown, my sisters and I were able to get together on St Patrick’s Day with no issues. It’s things like this that make a bad time bearable.

And while many are stressed, spending more time at home with family isn’t a bad thing despite the circumstances. An old man in Italy was interviewed when that country’s schools were closed a few weeks ago. The reporter asked if he’s concerned about the kids staying home, carrying the virus and infecting the elderly grandparents who were tasked with watching the homebound school kids while the parents worked. His response has stayed with me and helps me through each day. He said that he’s just happy to have this time to spend with his grandchildren who he doesn’t get to see very often because of everyone’s busy schedules and if this is the risk he has to take, then it’s worth it to have this time with them.

Each of us, in our own lives, have these little upsides – the silver linings that hit home for everyone in their own way and that’s what we need to hold on to. It’s a hard time for everyone, whether working or homebound, sick or healthy, stocked on toilet paper or living square-to-square. I think if we can find our own little upsides there will be less animosity in general and less animosity between us as fellow residents. There is food in the grocery stores stocked by the most patient clerks ever, there are doctors and nurses working tirelessly to heal the sick and slow the spread and, unlike every other outbreak to hit America in history, we now have the internet. We have the ability to stay connected, informed and entertained unlike any other generation before us. It could be worse.

Things are not great right now, but they aren’t as bad as some of the talking heads want you to believe. Stay calm, stay clean, stay informed, and stay positive.

Hold on to your little upsides and we will all get through this together.