Beautiful Life

A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln seems fitting right about now.

“Life is hard but so very beautiful.”

Attributed to Lincoln, but I have not been able to verify this. Still, it’s a great quote.

There is a lot of uncertainty right now about what will happen next. All of the schools in our areas have been cancelled until at least the middle of April at which time they will evaluate the situation and determine when (if) it will be safe to return to school. Many businesses are either temporarily closing or paring down their hours which, in turn, creates uncertainty for the workers who are (hopefully temporarily) displaced. The next fear is that when the smoke clears, we will find ourselves in an economic recession, if we’re not already there.

I’m currently trying to come up with a plan for how to teach two different Advanced Placement courses without being able to see my students in person while also helping my wife make sure our own kids are keeping up with the work their teachers are sending them and keeping all of us from going crazy. It’s a major adjustment, but we’re getting through it.

Even as bad as things are in many parts of the world right now with the Coronavirus, seeing how people in many communities are pulling together is a beautiful thing. We are all having to deal with what we will surely later see as minor inconveniences in order to keep a potentially lethal virus from spreading any faster than it already has.

One of the best life lessons my parents taught me was not to worry about things I can’t control. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it has been very valuable in my adult life.

We can’t keep people from freaking out and buying all of the toilet paper in the store. We can’t help it that some people are not taking the threat seriously. We can’t help it that many national government leaders were so slow to act. (Actually, we can help this one. Go vote!)

But we can determine our own response to this and every situation. We can be extra careful about washing our hands and not touching our face. We can keep our distance from others and socially isolate ourselves. It may be inconvenient in the short term, but in the long term, it will work wonders to slow down the spread of the disease in the US or where ever you are. We are all in this together.

One of the most dramatic examples of the ability of people to cope with a horrible situation is the quarantined Italians having jam sessions on their balconies. What a testament to the human will.

We can also determine how we use the extra time that we have at home. Two notable stories that have come out recently highlight what someone can do in a situation like this. One was about Shakespeare writing King Lear during a quarantine in the 1600s. The other was about how Issac Newton, as a quarantined student at Cambridge, developed his theories about Calculus, optics, and gravity, among other things that I don’t understand.

This truly is a beautiful life that we’ve been given. Yes, things are difficult right now, but that will help us appreciate the good things even more later. Do something great with any extra time you have. And be a good citizen. STAY HOME!