As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the daily lives of us all, we may be asked to continue social distancing, only occasionally venturing out for groceries and necessities. Gatherings with family, relatives and friends may still be limited as will attending religious services, dining out, social engagements, movies, concerts and sporting events.

As we look back on our on-going confinement and stay-at-home practices we may express some form of the “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” song by Beverley Knight released in 2002. We might already be thinking we “shoulda woulda coulda” be using our time more productively.

At first, we all probably welcomed the opportunity to get things done around the house – chores we’ve put off because there never was enough time to get to them during our busy work-a-day life and even retirement activities. You know what I’m referring to – that hall closet, chest of drawers, storage trunk, basement, garage, attic, and so forth, that is messy or full of junk! Items we ment to go through years ago but just haven’t been able to get around to.

Well, here many of us still are with more than enough time on our hands to get to it! So how are you doing? Are you managing to get some of those put-off items completed? Or are you saying you “shoulda woulda coulda” if you were more ambitious and better organized during your stay-at-home time?
My wife, Marty, and I started out like a house-a-fire doing spring cleaning with a vengeance. There was yard work to do when the weather cooperated, closets to clean out, repainting, redecorating, defrosting the freezer, catching up on those put-off projects and even creating some new ones just to be doing something constructive. My wife – who normally is a great cook – became even more ambitious in the kitchen and created some delightful dishes. I resumed exercises long neglected but now necessary since I was gaining weight from eating too much. We both tried to walk our dogs several times a week to benefit both their health and ours. Our two dogs, incidentally, have been in seventh heaven throughout our confinement since we seldom leave the house except to go for a ride, dogs included. Afterall, gas is cheap!

In fact, quarantine has turned us all into dogs. We roam the house all day long looking for food. We are told “no” if we get too close to strangers. And we really get excited about car rides.

Speaking of being together, not since the days of Adam and Eve have spouses, children and perhaps pets spent so much time together in one space. At least our first parents had a large garden in which to roam. Yet, this is a perfect time for families to get to know each other, to talk and really listen. And more importantly, to truly love and care for one other!
However, as I’m sure many of you can relate, we’ve grown a little lazy in our day-to-day activities. It’s so nice to sleep in; after all there are no appointments to keep, schedules to follow or activities in which to engage. Our calendar has X’s on nearly every day. There still are some things to do, but as the days and weeks endlessly pass, we’ve grown a little lax in our efforts.

And if you’re searching for more things to read, you know those old books on your shelves with beautifully bound covers so attractive look at? Well, check them out! I’ll bet you’ll find some classics to peruse again. Works like The Plays of William Shakespeare, Emmerson’s Essays, Vanity Fair, War and Peace, The Iliad, Crime and Punishment, Gone with the Wind and more. This time around you don’t have to write a book report about it or, worse yet, give an oral report!

For our own sanity we’ve got to look for ways to keep ourselves occupied and our minds functioning. The trouble with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. Maybe now is the time to begin writing a journal or diary, practicing yoga, exercising more, reading the Bible, or setting aside quiet time daily for meditation or prayer.

Distance yourself from any emotional vampires who suggest you play the game of “shoulda woulda coulda.” Refocus yourself on the now and know you have the power to improve upon the present even if it’s still in your home for quite a while yet with too much time on your hands. Focus on being alone – together. Because by staying apart, for now, we stay together.
Let’s conclude with a work written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara and reportedly reprinted during the Spanish Flu Pandemic, 1919:

And people stayed at home, And read books, And listened, And they rested, And did exercises,
And made art and played, And learned new ways of being, And stopped and listened more deeply.
Someone meditated, Someone prayed, Someone met their shadow, And people began to think differently, And people healed.
And in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways, Dangerous, meaningless and heartless, The earth also began to heal, And when the danger ended and people found themselves, They grieved for the dead, And made new choices, And dreamed of new visions, And created new ways of living.
And completely healed the earth, Just as they were healed.

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer