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Small Silver Linings

by Mary Chase
Posted on April 2, 2020

Social distancing has made me really aware of counting small silver linings. I should say up front—and for anyone who knows me this is no surprise—I am not a positive person. My favorite pastime is complaining. But I also don’t ever want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s a bit of a contradiction. So while I’ll bitch about a book with a friend or tear apart the plot with my husband at night before we fall asleep, I’ll never post a bad review or publicly trash anything anyone’s created. Because the fact that it was created feels like a miracle to me, and the fact that I disliked it enough to complain, a bit of a gift.

But I like complaining. That’s the point. I would love to rant all day about everything. But without the benefit of context, it’s just an unhappy person spewing bile into the universe.

Right now the universe doesn’t need anymore bile. We need more masks and safety gear and hand sanitizer and soap and toilet paper and safety nets for families who need them and paid sick leave and leaders who are more interested in helping than approval ratings, but not more bile. And my intent was never to write a political post. So deep breath. Focus. Steer away from the digression.

And we’re back. To small silver linings.

This pandemic is without question, horrible, unthinkable, unimaginably bad. The worst case scenario in a moment when the best case scenario wasn’t great. So nothing I’m about to write is meant to contradict that or minimize it or pretend things are okay. I get it. They’re not.

free little library
Free hand sanitizer is a small silver lining.

But yesterday I walked by a Free Little Library and the owners had tied a small hand sanitizer to the handle. In a time when people are hoarding supplies that everyone needs, someone was willing to spare a scarce resource to make sure others could grab a book if they needed one. This felt like a small silver lining.

When walking around my neighborhood keeping a safe six feet from any passersby, I met a woman I’d never met who told me how excited she’d been to drive through McDonald’s for breakfast. She stopped me on the sidewalk to tell me how excited she’d been to go to a place she usually avoided to get breakfast and we laughed, because I’d gone the day before and was just as excited about my mini road trip. She told me about her kids and grandkids and I told her about my kids and I could tell what a lovely person she was. Meeting her was another small silver lining.

I saw our postal delivery man who is still working every day, and he asked if my family was all right, and I almost cried (quick note: I may be a complainer, but I’m also quick to weep from joy). He said he was doing fine so far and I thanked him for still working—even though I wish he didn’t have to. I’m not sure my circulars from grocery stores and junk mail from credit card companies are essential. But still, the moment felt like a small silver lining.

We always say, or at least I do, that I wish I had more time with my family. In the last few weeks, we’ve done puzzles, watched movies, played games, cooked, read and wrote together, danced and played rock band. I’m not trying to paint an overly pretty picture. We’ve also spent hours upon hours on screens, screamed at each other over nothing and over really important things that might cause permanent cracks. We’ve fought about who would get the last ice cream cone and who moved my charger and swore at each other when the internet went down for two and a half minutes. Plus half of us have basically stopped showering.

But my daughters have instituted regular secret sleepovers and my husband and I get to listen to them laughing at night and since they don’t have to be up in the morning, I can enjoy the sound. My husband and I stayed up giggling the last two nights about—well, me complaining about the absurd plot of a book and the ridiculous questions people are asking on Facebook. Maybe not the best reason, but the point is the giggling. The point is the small silver lining.

To say I will miss this time when it’s over, is, I know, completely insane. And insane for a few different reasons. One, who knows when it will be over, or what over will look like. Two, for a lot of people who have lost family members and loved ones, I know it will never be over. And three, from my selfish, privileged perch, obviously this needs to end. I want my kids to go back to school and toilet paper to be back on the shelves and I want to be able to meet my best friends for lunch to complain about all of this.

Comedian Scott Castellanos performs stand-up comedy from his front porch!

But I will miss some things. The way the pace of life has slowed down. The way my daughter isn’t completely stressed about school. I’ll miss the creativity and sense of community, of comedians doing stand-up sets from their porches and my amazing gym, Fly Girl Dance and Fitness, offering drive-by dance parties (along with free Facebook Live classes for everyone!). I’ll miss having enough time to suggest my kids watch Yentl, and I’ll miss seeing the excitement on their faces when they agree. I won’t be sad when this is over, but I will miss some of these small silver linings. Here’s hoping we all find a few.

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10 comments on “Small Silver Linings”

    1. That's the sweetest thing I've heard all day. I hope I'm always part of your silver lining. You'll always be part of mine!

  1. Beautifully written. Keep creating, keep enjoying family time, keep complaining, keep hoping, keep giggling, keep sympathizing, keep sharing and keep looking for those silver linings. Loved it!

    1. You keep creating too! I love what you're doing. It's such a wonderful thing for the community (and world!). We need to laugh.

  2. Mary,

    I love this! While getting the world back on track, I am loving how we are slowing down, and I am spending time with my boys. Thank you for putting this out there. It’s all about perspective.

    1. Thanks for reading it! I'm so glad you're enjoying time with your boys. It's such a crazy moment in history.

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