One Question, Many Answers: What Do I Do?

Hope rock on beach
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When you go on a quest for questions, the result comes as no surprise—you find them everywhere. Friends and family and business associates and complete strangers have them, and they run the gamut, as you may recall from a few weeks ago, from serious issues to snack cakes.

When you go looking for answers, the field is equally crowded. Everyone is searching for answers. Over this past week, many have been given, again by that collection of people with whom we communicate, directly and indirectly, every day. Doctors and delivery people, restaurateurs and government workers, co-workers and students and small business owners, a sampling of their collected wisdom here offers response to one question. It may have variations, but the heart of the inquiry remains singular: What do I do?

You continue to practice social distancing.

You support local businesses as much as you can. You get some takeout or delivery from local restaurants, you fill glasses at your virtual happy hour with wine you order from a local vineyard, you purchase a book from a local bookstore, you send a gift from a local merchant to somebody for their anniversary.

You get some fresh air. You take care of yourself.

You get in your car and you join that contactless birthday parade, that car parade where teachers celebrate their students, that car parade expressing gratitude and awe for the healthcare workers at the hospital who are on the front lines of this battle every minute of every day.

You give thanks for first responders when you hear emergency vehicle sirens in the distance. And even when you don’t.

You make a long-view bucket list. There are things you miss, like getting together with friends for a cup of coffee, so where’s the first place you’re going to meet up when you can? Or things you’ve never gotten around to, like climbing to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse or stepping inside the Big Duck.

You make a short-term bucket list. You watch that movie you’ve never seen, read that book you’ve had on your shelf (my daughter is reading War & Peace, which might make her the first person to actually do that, I’m told.). Learn an instrument or another language. Figure out if a watched pot boils.

You keep washing your hands, cleaning and disinfecting those frequently touched surfaces, and staying home as much as you can.

You stay informed. You read, listen to and watch multiple news sources, not just the one that tells you what you want to hear.

You show kindness. You show a little more patience and understanding.

You keep communicating with your government. Share your thoughts, your concerns, your ideas. Elected officials are, like the rest of us, imperfect, but regardless of party they represent all of us.

You accept the fact that yes, this is hard. You help others accept that fact, too. You find ways to explain to your kids why they can’t have play dates, to explain to your grandparents why they absolutely should not be going to the store when somebody can bring things to them, to friends and family that even if you don’t talk to them every day, you’re thinking of them.

You look for ways you can help others.

You don’t watch the clock. There is no countdown to when this will be over, or even when this will begin to “get back to normal.” It is simply, at this moment, impossible to tell. Dates and deadlines get moved daily, as they must. Nobody is going to say hey, it’s all over in 10 days. “Back to normal” is not going to occur at the flip of a switch. It is going to take time, and nobody can tell us how much.

You keep asking questions.

You keep finding answers.

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