The COVID-19 pan-panic has many of us wishing things were different — ideally, that it had never happened or at least that it would go ahead and be over so we can all get back to our normal lives.

Like many, I feel especially bad for those missing out on important milestones, like senior prom and high school graduation, as well as for those who have lost jobs and businesses. If I dwell on it too much, I get sad, angry, and depressed. You probably feel the same way. That’s perfectly normal.

Even such dark clouds, however, have their silver lining, and I for one am trying to focus on those. Perhaps you can relate to that, as well.

For one thing, the “stay at home” diktats of our state and local government commissars, accompanied by threats of “aggressive” enforcement, have given me an opportunity to spend more time with my favorite person in the world: my wife.

At the risk of sounding trite, she’s been my best friend for 38 years, and there’s no one I’d rather be under house arrest with.

Of course, there are others I’d like to spend more time with, too, especially my kids and grandkids. But as I’m trying to focus on silver linings, I’ll just say thank goodness for FaceTime.

I was also thinking the other day about how much money we’ve saved over the past four weeks. Sure, my family, like most, has lost some income. In the early days of the panic, we also spent quite a bit stocking up on necessities like toilet paper and Oreo cookies.

On the flip side, we have definitely been able to economize in other areas. For example, we’ve saved a lot of wear and tear on our vehicles and postponed needed but not urgent home maintenance.

Of course, that means months from now, when most things are (more or less) back to normal, the car dealerships, repair shops, and contractors will still be playing catch-up. But I’m not going to think about that right now. I’m focusing on silver linings, remember?

We’ve also saved a lot of money on things like gasoline, dry cleaning, pants, hair cuts, soap, shampoo, razors and underarm deodorant. Hey, don’t judge me. I took a shower yesterday. OK, it might have been the day before.

Another silver lining: We’ve been able to do some things around the house that we might not have gotten to if we weren’t more or less permanently around the house. Then again, considering how much I despise painting, I’m not sure that actually counts as a silver lining.

And finally, with all the nice weather we’ve been having —this past Sunday’s tornado scare notwithstanding — I’ve been able to do my “working at home” out on the deck. If you’re one of my students, that explains the chirping birds, barking dogs and lawn equipment in the background.

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Rob Jenkins is a college professor. The views expressed here are his own. You can email Rob at


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