Finding the Positive


Jerrika Coffman

A photo entered in the first Journalism class contest earlier this year.

Mrs. Hyde, Journalism teacher

Last week, I assigned an article to my Journalism students to find and write about the positives of our current situation.  For several, it was a tall order.  What’s to like about being forced to stay home, not able to see or hang out with friends, having to do schoolwork online?  As I reflected on my own question, I’ve found that the answer is….quite a bit!  Please don’t mistake my enthusiasm for a genuine desire for things to be this way forever.  Of course, I would RATHER be back in school, seeing my students every day.  Of course, I would rather not read articles daily about horrific scenes in hospitals in New York City where people are dying alone.  And of course, I would much rather be able to get in my car and drive to Indianapolis to see my son, or to Nashville to see my daughter and grandson.  Instead, what I mean is that I do think there are positives in our lives right now, and for me, our current situation seems a lot more bearable when I focus on those positive things.  So here we go… Mrs. Hyde’s list of the positives in this situation:

  1. I am currently sheltering at home with my husband, my 83 year old mother who has dementia, and my 23 year old dental hygienist daughter who chose to come home after her dentist office in Indy closed because of the pandemic.  My daughter hasn’t lived at home in a few years, and quite frankly, it’s been wonderful to have her home again.  How many times do adult parents have an opportunity to spend this much time with their adult children?  While I wouldn’t wish for these circumstances, I am thrilled to have this chance to spend time with Hannah.
  2. Our lives are, by necessity, much slower right now, and as someone who is usually juggling dozens of responsibilities and activities, I am enjoying the change of pace.  When is the last time I was ever able to be in the moment, without a thought for something coming up?  It doesn’t happen often in my life, and I am appreciating the moments right now.
  3. My husband and I both lead busy lives.  Even though David retired from an all consuming job in Olney two years ago, he continues to practice law on the side, in addition to his church commitments, which usually include days filled with visits to homes, nursing homes, and hospitals.  Right now, he can’t do any of his normal visiting, so he settles for a telephone ministry, which takes considerably less time.  His legal work continues, but involves a lot of postponed court settings, which means much of it is simply at a standstill.  So every day, we take a drive, drive through a restaurant  take-out line, and have a new kind of “date.”  Every evening, he plays board games with Hannah and I, and watches the next episode of an old Survivor show.  I am loving spending time with him, and it’s time we didn’t have before this current situation halted everything else in our lives.
  4. I have always had a lot of interests, and most of them involve creating things — jewelry, baking, clothing, home decor, gardening.  In the past, I struggled to have time to pursue more than one or two of these interests, and even then, my efforts were sporadic.  Right now, I have time to pursue anything I want, and it is a wonderful, freeing feeling.  I can clean, organize, make jewelry, sew, or soon, even garden, with no worry for another responsibility I’m neglecting.  I’ve found that pursuing my interests makes me a happy person, and right now, I appreciate that happiness more than ever.
  5. When I watch or read the news, I see a lot of awful stuff, but I also see a lot of wonderful stuff happening.  There is camaraderie among Americans –people helping others, people being kind to one another, people stepping up to take on responsibilities, people risking their lives for others.  Wow.  Really, at this time when things seem to be at their worst, Americans seem to be at their best.  While I’m sad it takes this kind of a situation to make that happen, I’m hopeful that this sense of camaraderie will  continue long past COVID-19.
  6. While I never like hearing about people dying, especially otherwise healthy people who still lead productive lives surrounded by people who love them, I sometimes think sudden death is helpful for us to adjust our priorities.  How many times do we normally neglect to call the people we love?  How many times do we choose our own selfish lifestyle over paying a visit to a loved one?  How many times do we pay little attention to our loved ones, assuming they will always be there?  COVID-19 has been a grim reminder that the people we love can be taken from us in a moment. So what’s positive about that?  Seeing it happen should make us all more appreciative of the people in our lives.

It’s my hope that even when life goes back to normal, we’ll not be lulled back into complacency anytime soon.  It’s my hope that this experience will deeply affect all of us, making us more grateful, more demonstrative, and more likely to choose people over things, relationships over experiences, and love over indifference.  If it happens, THAT will be the biggest positive of all.