Will we learn anything from time of distancing?

As we enter the fourth week of social distancing, quarantining, working and schooling from home via WiFi, we may have settled into routines now that we realize the situation is not likely to change any time soon.

Initially it may have been a novelty.

Then, it may have been an irritation.

Now, it's the new normal and we are adjusting (or stressing out because we refuse to adjust).

There are many events that we've probably taken for granted that can not be handled as they have been in the past. Several people locally have lost loved ones to death and there have been either small graveside services or plans made to have services at a later date. Visitations are not allowed.

Babies have been born without the excited presence of grandparents and extended family members.

People have been ill, injured or required surgery and hospitalized without a loved one nearby for solace and consolation.

Sporting events have been cancelled. Entertainment venues are closed. Restaurants are closed.

Now, people are wondering about graduations -- kindergarten, high school, college graduations which usually draw large family gatherings.

People have creatively adapted finding ways to fellowship from a distance whether via an internet platform or a video telephone call, to joining in church services while separated in their cars in the parking lot, to driving through neighborhoods waving to students and neighbors trying to share encouragement.

Many people have found ways to serve -- from making cloth face masks to designing and making small devices to connect face masks loops behind the head to lessen the strain on the ears to putting food items in local drop-off food pantries.

Recently, I drove through the parking lot of the mall in Rogers. It was virtually empty. The first thought that crossed my mind, unbidden, was "It must be Sunday." And the I realized I had basically gone back in time mentally more than 50 years.

When I was young, growing up in the deep South, stores and businesses closed at 5 or 6 p.m. and were not open on Sundays. In fact, after church and Sunday lunch at the Country Club, Granddaddy would drive us around to "window shop." Nowadays, with stores open seven days a week, there is no window shopping. Except for now, with the quarantine, stores are again closed.

Years ago, Sunday was a different day than the other six days of the week. Church parking lots were full. Store parking lots were empty and stores were closed. Occasionally a gasoline station (we called them filling stations) was open, but it was the exception instead of the rule.

Even people who didn't go to church used Sunday for a day of rest and relaxation.

Today, Sunday is not much different than the work week except many stores don't open until noon.

Maybe this time of enforced isolation will teach us something. Maybe we'll find ways to create time within our overpacked, busy, demanding schedules for recreation, relaxation, relationships, for family and for friends.

Maybe we'll come out on the other side wiser.


Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. A native of Louisiana, she moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, five sons-in-law, nine grandsons and three granddaughters. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected].

Editorial on 04/15/2020