I think we can all agree life is a learning experience, and to that end, I also think we can all agree we’ve learned something from being in quarantine this year, both the good and bad.
Inasmuch as we live in a society where mostly everyone has something to say and believes they should have a right to be heard saying it, I want to say here and now that I don’t expect anyone to listen to yet one more voice vying for echo through social media’s cacophonously vibrating halls. But here it goes anyway. I am a writer after all. I can’t help myself.
# 10: I’ve learned that living out in the country means long drives into the city, where lovely public restrooms, the majority of which have been closed for usage (and we do have our favorites in this house), are life savers, so to speak. Alas, even the clean ones still open have best been avoided lately, for obvious reasons, and this has been, well, a wonderful challenge. In short, we’ve all learned to grow our bladders ten times the size they once were and this is especially true for me.
# 9: I’ve learned that things can get pretty dicey when waiting for coffee in the only open Starbucks line for miles around and that people during such a time as this don’t always rise to their best selves. I have watched humans drive their vehicles out of long lines to cut in front of many others in order to make it to the window before closing time, a sight more bold, rude, and appalling than anything I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot when it comes to caffeine deprivation. I’m also a Starbucks barista. For heaven’s sake.
# 8: I’ve learned that our leaders sorely disappoint and decisions made against humanity, like restricting hiking trails and filling in skate parks with sand when people need fresh air and plenty of sunshine, make me think novels like George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are truly coming to life. Speaking of which…
# 7: I’ve learned that being a high school literature teacher during a stay-at-home order allows for practical application in the classroom and greater understanding of the impact of society in influencing great literature. I’ve also learned kids are still fully capable of playing pranks and passing notes in an online classroom, only now they’re more creative than ever and can transport themselves away to other worlds with the use of virtual backgrounds and even hang from the ceiling when they turn themselves upside down in their frame. My own daughter Grace is in my American lit class and is a ringleader. Of course.
# 6: I’ve learned that a LOT of people are unable to distinguish between social distancing and anti-social behavior. Have you noticed lately how few people say hello anymore when you pass them walking? It’s as if we are afraid of one another! You can’t get a virus from eye contact. Good grief. Do you think our news media will be reporting that next?
# 5: I’ve learned that as long as you work from home, there is always something that needs to be done so there is no such thing as extra FREE time. Who ARE all these people at home who are getting SO much accomplished with SO much FREE TIME? Time is definitely not free to parents. Or to those of us who live on farms. Animals have no idea we are in a quarantine. Actually, I take that back. They do. And they’re loving it.
# 4: I’ve learned that people panic. Over ridiculous things. Like toilet paper. Enough said. Way more than enough said.
# 3: I’ve learned that challenge often brings out the worst in people—those who always have an unkind word to say, with more criticism and grumbling and pollution to emit into the world. Because as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, the makers of misery are always doing their best to destroy the happiness in others they reject for themselves. A quarantine, or a virus, or any calamity will always best be utilized to their miserable advantage. Or so they think. As my dad used to say, “It will all come out in the wash.” One day.
# 2: I’ve learned people are gullible and are often easily led astray by false facts and indecent reporting. I’ve learned that there are far fewer legitimate journalists than there are sensationalists, but that isn’t something it took a quarantine to confirm. I was a journalist myself for over a decade. I know how ratings work. It’s just too bad there is so little truth on display these days. (And so few decent questions asked.) But I don’t worry. Truth is something that will always be around, in and out of quarantine. It is something God will take care of in due time. It’ll come out in the wash too.
Which brings me to the #1 thing I’ve learned from living in a quarantine: God is still God. He still changes dark into light and evil into good. He still sits on his throne, is intimately involved in each little detail, each facet of each small life. He's given me more sweet moments with my family and better perspective of what's important during this time at home.
And I’ve learned, again, that I can trust him through anything that comes my way, because in keeping my eyes on him and focusing on his promises, one can truly feel his spirit in the storm.
And see the rainbow in the distance. It’s always there after a good wash.