Coronavirus Silver Linings

I haven’t posted for a while. It may have something to do with the current lock-down that most of the US and the world is enduring due to SARS-CoV-2 (I am just going to call it COVID-19). Needless to say, there hasn’t been much room for exploring the outdoors lately.

Before the complete shutdown of my state of Maryland and the surrounding states, I had planned to take a bike tour through Shenandoah National Park. I figured I would not spread the virus since I would keep to myself and be far away from other humans. However, better judgement (and some input from my wife and mother) kept me at home.

So now (like many of you) I am at home 99% of the time. I think it is interesting that many people are finding it challenging to endure the lock-down. Also it seems like all of the coverage of the virus (non-stop) is very negative. I understand many people have essentially lost their jobs, or have at least lost their income for the next month or two. However with the variety of challenges we are collectively facing, I see many opportunities to look on the bright side.

Opportunity #1: Appreciate how good you have it (and the healthcare system)

Whether you believe the healthcare system in your country is great or you have a bunch of issues with it, I think the overall global response to COVID-19 has been great. I am amazed that the vast majority of Americans are complying with orders to stay at home even though it infringes on your rights and liberty (that’s a whole different argument).

Also, the healthcare system has been working double-time for over a month to make sure people are taken care of. The number of deaths could be much higher if we didn’t take the actions we have taken AND healthcare workers were not working insane hours and risking their health to minimize the impact.

On another note, if the worst thing that happens to you during this lock-down is that you run out of toilet paper, then I think you have it pretty good. First world problems, am I right?

Opportunity #2: Extra Time!

If you are blessed with the gift of working at home, you no longer have to commute to work. You get to keep your job/income, and you don’t have to sit in traffic. This also cuts down on your car maintenance and overall expenses. I see nothing wrong with this. Maybe this will help cut down on pollution (see Opportunity #4) and shift our collective paradigm regarding traditional offices as employment centers. Traffic has been a breeze lately

Speaking of extra time, over the past few weeks I have noticed a lot more people getting exercise via walking, running, or biking. Why not take advantage of the extra time to get in to better shape? The main excuse for not getting exercise is “I don’t have enough time”. Well now you probably have lots of extra time for excercise. Plus it’s an excuse to get out of the house during these strange times.

Opportunity #3: Extra time (again) for projects

Over the last few months, I have picked up a few hobbies. I have committed most of my extra time to woodworking. Since December I have built most of a bedroom set (bed, bench, and night stands) a mobile closet, a table, benches, shelves, and some other smaller projects. Now I have all day to work on these projects. Of course I am involuntarily sacrificing my income to pursue my new interests, but maybe this hobby will turn into something more. For now, it’s at least its another skill in the toolbox.

Speaking of projects, most folks have more time to work on projects around the house. Whether you are stuck at home or working from home, you will most likely have more time to make some progress fixing, cleaning, landscaping, etc. A lot of projects are getting done on time (or early) this season.

Opportunity #4: A window to a cleaner world

With COVID-19 bringing economic activity to a crawl in many sectors (certainly not the toilet paper industry), we have the opportunity to see the impact of reducing our carbon footprint and overall pollution. The skies are visibly cleaner throughout most of the world. Of course this will not last once things “return to normal”, but we temporarily have the opportunity to see what a world with less pollution looks like. Hopefully it encourages people (especially entrepreneurs and legislators) to think about how to maintain this level of pollution in the future.

China’s pollution decrease after Country-wide quarantine implemented

I think we can all agree that cleaner air is better. How do we get there without sacrificing the economy, jobs, and our collective health)? Revisiting Opportunity #2, maybe we can all start by driving less. Last month, nearly a quarter of all Americans worked from home. Maybe we can start there.

I found a couple of interesting maps of the United States, India, and China regarding the scale of pollution reduction. Who knows how accurate they are, but point taken:

Opportunity #5: More time (for the third time) to plan for exploring

Spring is here, and the conditions for exploring outside are getting better everyday. Hopefully we can all come out of hiding within the next month and take advantage of the weather. There have been some beautiful days over the past month, and it has been difficult for me to be confined to the neighborhood instead of venturing farther.

However, there is more time for planning for outdoor trips later in the year. At Explores Inc. the “big” trip this year is hiking in Ansel Adams Wilderness. Our group hasn’t made much progress in the planning area since the trip was proposed, so we are using our extra spare time to nail down dates, logistics, and gear.

This year should be especially interesting as pollution (including noise pollution) from humans has decreased significantly. Wildlife is therefore less impeded by human activity (although this might be a negative depending on where you live). However if we are hiking through the wilderness with better odds of seeing wildlife in a world with less pollution, I vote yes.

Thanks for reading. Sorry if I come off a bit preachy. I hope you are staying safe and healthy in these strange times. Going back to my first point, it’s a good time to reflect and appreciate what you have. Life is pretty good when you can order most essentials online and have it delivered to your house.

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