Silver Linings of Social Distancing
By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
A month ago, no one could have imagined where we’d be today. I’m not just talking about the markets, which is a separate conversation, but the fact that everyday life has been upended is what hits home for most Americans. I must admit though, there are aspects of this ‘new normal’ that I do quite like. Grocery shopping at prime time on the weekends is no longer an exercise in survival of the fittest. People are keeping their distance and being polite, crowds are sparse, and highways are traffic-free. Overall, I think that social distancing and the shelter in place orders are helping Americans see that there is more to life than being on the run and working 24/7. As a culture, we are accustomed to the high pace and high intensity lifestyle, which translates to a work/life balance that is consistently rated one of the worst in the globe. With no where to go and nothing to do, I hope most people are using this time to focus on themselves and hit the rest button rather than the panic button.
In my personal life, I’ve noticed that I’m actually better at connecting with friends and family while on lockdown than I have been over the past several years. Being home, and more importantly, knowing all of my friends are home, makes it easier to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, or better yet, a Facetime. Last Sunday, on a whim, I was able to get 5 of my best friends on Facetime together. Three weeks ago, there is no chance that would have been the case and I would have been lucky to get even one of the 5 without playing telephone tag considering everyone’s differing schedules, travel plans, social engagements, kids’ commitments and just the chaos that regular life entails. We talked for over an hour. I couldn’t believe it. Even if its just a text, a quick “hello” certainly sends a warm and fuzzy message in a time when everyone feels so isolated and alone.
Another silver lining to the newfound free time is that all of the possible excuses we’ve had for not getting stuff done around the house have been essentially eliminated. We’re in our new house about two months now, and the majority of the hard work of getting settled is behind us. The basement has been our only albatross; it’s a maze of boxes and Tupperware containers stacked haphazardly on top of one-another. I’ve taken the out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach, but with nothing to do it was an unavoidable task. What was once an activity reserved for a ‘rainy day,’ quickly became a task for a ‘quarantine day.’ Who would have thought? We spent hours in there over the weekend, organizing, shelving and unboxing. We even made it the boxes of the infant supplies that we’ll need in June and started to get the bedroom ready for another baby. With the remaining spare time, I cleaned and organized the garage, and had it been warmer, would have washed the cars as well.
Kyle seems to be handling all of this quite well. Fortunately, he’s young, naïve, without a care in the world – ignorance is bliss, as they say. With daycare closed for the past 2 weeks, he’s been spending a lot more time with my parents. He does seem to miss his teachers and friends from daycare, however, because when I put him in the car in the morning, he starts to say all of their names as if to ask if we are going to see them all. Fortunately, he still gets to see Grandma and Poppy, which is not a bad alternative. Even better, he hasn’t brought home a new cold from daycare in a while, which means all of us (my parents included) haven’t felt better in a long time!
With so much negative news getting pumped through the various media outlets, it can be hard to stay positive. As with any crisis, you’ll continue to see the best and the worst of humanity, and I recommend focusing on those trying to make this world a better place. There are an incredible amount of people doing real good, donating money, time and in many cases, jeopardizing their health, to help those in need. It’s moments like these that the unsung heroes of the global economy can shine, and if it wasn’t for people like truck drivers, grocery store employees, teachers, healthcare workers and volunteers, we would be in far, far worse shape.
Wishing you all the best over these next couple weeks. Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay positive!