stock stay home rainbow

Running out of things to do while sheltering in place?

Read “War and Peace.”

Seriously?

Yep. Apparently 30,000 people around the world are taking it on. All 1,225 pages.

Not me. I heard the CliffsNotes take three months to read.

I love the cartoon post of CliffsNotes created by artist John Atkinson. He drew each classic and summed it up in one sentence, to the horror of every English teacher:

“War and Peace … everyone is sad. It snows.”

“The Sun Also Rises … lost generation gets drunk. They’re still lost.”

“Moby Dick … man vs. whale. Whale wins.”

Oops, did I ruin the ending? Sorry.

My favorite? “Ulysses … Dublin, something, something, something, run-on sentence.” I’m Irish and I still can’t understand James Joyce.

Here’s one to read during the coronavirus: “Walden … man sits outside for two years. Nothing happens.”

If nothing is happening during your quarantine besides you pounding down quarantinis and having wine with DeWine every day at 2 p.m., don’t be too hard on yourself.

We’re not in the same boat, a friend reminded me. We might be in the same storm, but some people feel shipwrecked, while others are sailing into Target every week buying up all the toilet paper.

Some people are writing novels or binging on Netflix or panic buying on Amazon, while others are frantically home schooling kids while trying to work or masking up and leaving the house every day for an essential job.

If your boat feels a little wobbly right now, here are some ways to steady it:

• Watch “Some Good News” with John Krasinski on YouTube. I cry every time. In one episode, he shared the BBC story of war veteran Ken Benbow, 94, who slept with his wife’s photo. Ada died in August. They were married 71 years. The staff made a pillow for him with her photo on it. I cried harder than he did when he saw it.

• Get dirty. Take up gardening. I just saw a meme with a photo of a pile of dirt next to what looks suspiciously like a grave and these words: “Day 14 of the quarantine: My wife took up gardening, but won’t tell me what she’s going to plant.”

• Be kind. It takes practice. I love my husband, but I also loved my solitude. I’ve caught myself being so nagative. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s nagging so much that his first words have become, “Before you say no …”

• Play the piano. Learn one song on that old guitar. Play those records you’ve saved for years.

• Walk. I take the plastic newspaper bag with me every walk and pick up litter. Every day, I come home feeling like I hugged Mother Earth.

• Make every hug matter. If you can’t hug anyone right now, hug yourself. Take a hot bath. It’s almost as good as a hug.

• Study the stars. Find Orion. Thank him for guarding the night.

• Be curious. Next time you wash your hands for the 100th time, pause and thank them. Place them over your heart and thank them for opening doors and typing out texts and baking bread and holding your fork.

• Create something. My friend, Karen Sandstrom, director of communications for the Cleveland Institute of Art, amazes me every day with her #tinymorningsketch. Every day on Facebook she posts her whimsical, wonderful drawings.

• Change the sheets. Clean out the freezer. Toss anything that looks like a mystery you can’t solve.

• You don’t have to drop 20 pounds or run a 5K or bench press your weight. Just move. Any movement is better than sitting on the couch growing more spuds.

• You don’t have to write a novel, but you can write a note and thank a former teacher, greet an old friend or encourage a senior in a nursing home.

• Act like a child. Complete a puzzle. Play dress up. Picnic in the grass. Learn one good card trick. Become a wiz at gin rummy. Dance like no one is watching because chances are good, no one is. And even if they were, who cares?

It’s time to stop waiting for things to “get back to normal.” This isn’t some giant waiting room. This, this, right now, this is your life. Don’t miss out on a minute of it waiting for something better.

And as Rumi said, “If everything around you seems dark, look again, you may be the light.”

Just shine.


Read Regina Brett online at cjn.org/regina. Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2019 APME Best Columnist.

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Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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