What To Do and Not To Do During the Lockdown

Newspapers are lying to you. They’re feeding you ads pretending it’s news.

The headlines are not only false, they’re dangerous. And wrong.

The most common such lie goes like this: “Best Streaming Service For Shelter in Place” or “Here’s What to Binge Watch While Locked Down”

Here’s the truth: we will not emerge from the coronavirus crisis stronger or better if we spend this time doing what we’ve always done.

Financially and physically, we will be collectively worse off, at least for a time. But we have the chance to emerge individually stronger, healthier, smarter, tougher, more resilient, and more intelligent. Unless we heed the advice of newspaper “experts” by watching brainless television and movies for 18 hours a day.

We are not good enough for that. We do not deserve that luxury. We owe it to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our God to treat this pandemic like a gift.

Do not seek comfort during the pandemic.

That’s the only “not to do” item on the list. Resist comfort. Avoid leisure. Eschew idleness. (Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.)

If you ignore this advice and follow the comfortable advice to be a slug and sloth, you will hate yourself when this is over.

Instead, sacrifice, fast, read, exercise, write, and practice mortification (that’s self-denial for those of you who grew up in the world of maximum comfort). Wake up early. Clean the house. Fix the things that have needed fixing or straightening for years. Talk to friends and relatives instead of messaging them. Play board games or cards with someone in your house. Hand-wash the dirty dishes. Vacuum the cobwebs off the walls and ceilings. Dust. Clean toilets. Pray.

If, at the end of this trial, our homes are as clean as the day we moved in, we will have come out better than we went in.

  • If we exit the pandemic physically stronger

  • If we emerge with five good books under your belt

  • If we return to normal a morning person for the first time

  • If we learn something new about a friend since high school (from them, not through gossip)

  • If we come out of this closer to God

  • If we lose ten pounds

  • If we destroy our wives at Cribbage 32 times out of 40

  • If we learn to clip our dogs nails ourselves (without wounding the poor beasts)

  • If we re-learn how to bake

  • If we learn that food is an option, not a necessity, any give day (or week)

  • If we can sit still and silent for 20 minutes (or an hour)

  • If we can keep our heads when all about us are losing theirs

  • If we develop a habit of daily prayer

  • If we can check any of these things off at the end of the lockdown, then we will have made ourselves and the whole world stronger while pleased God.

The best memories in life are not of the good times, but of our resilience in the bad ones. When we say of someone, “he knows how to have a good time,” we all know it isn’t really a compliment. When we talk of making the best of a bad experience, we don’t mean numbing ourselves with drugs or amusements.

Coronavirus and the world’s response is the number-one news story of every life on the planet right now. This trumps 9-11 in every way. And the financial crisis. It touches more lives in more places than anything since World War II. You might not see it now, but wait.

In 10, 20, even 70 years, children will read about this moment and ask you what you did during the great Chinese coronavirus plague. It could be your student or your child or grandchild. To borrow a line from General Patton, when those innocent, curious eyes look into yours for an answer, you don’t want to have to say, “I shoveled sh!t in Louisiana.”

Nor will you want to say, “I watched every episode of Seinfeld.” Watching every episode of Seinfeld might sound comforting now. It is comforting for a moment. But it will make you look like a loser in the eyes of that child if that was your entire contribution to the greatest pandemic since the Spanish Flu.

If you haven’t guessed, this is really a note to self. I caught myself binge-watching a television series. I’ve relaxed my daily disciplines. And I’ve given myself excuses. I’ve fallen for the lies.

In light of all the disinformation regarding the best practices for a lockdown, I thought I’d share something that will help us all live into the promise emerging stronger even if different.

God bless.