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Writer Without a Clause: Live and Learn, an Essay

In his "Writer Without a Clause" articles, Chris writes about whatever is on his mind at the moment without research and without editing.


Author's Note: Focus on the Good Things People Do

I want to apologize for my absence during the recent past. I have not been writing, and I have not been reading here on HubPages. I'm a bit dried up regarding anything creative. But I have hope. I have a vision for myself and our world society. I see the possibility for good to eminate from the bad.

That is my focus. I will gain anything positive that I can possibly obtain. I will focus on the good things people are doing for each other.

Feel the Burn


The Deepest Truths are learned in Adversity

Feel the burn. That’s what we used to say when we were working out. You know, like at the gym or running. Feel the burn was a challenge to each other to endure the pain in order to reach the goal of a stronger body.

We need inspiration today. We need it now. I think we all can agree on one thing. We won’t get measurable inspiration from any level of government. But we will get it from each other as we learn what life is really all about.

I’ve learned a few lessons during the covid crisis. I’m sure you have too. I want to invite you to share those lessons in the comment area of this hub, or in your own hubs. Please, share so others can learn from your experience. This is the opportunity of the century for this world. The deepest truths are learned in adversity.

The Lie About Wealth


Weaned From the Obsession With Wealth

We are being weaned from our obsession with wealth. Many of us are nearing the end of our ability to meet even our basic needs. Some of us have already passed that point. Have you visited your local food bank? Don’t be ashamed. Accept the generosity of others, graciously.

My son and daughter-in-law set up a food bank in our little town. It is located under a pop-up canopy next to the cafe. People drop off food and money donations at the house. Scott and Kelly replenish the food bank every day. All food is quarantined in plastic bins for four days so that the virus, if present, will die. They are getting an abundance of donations, and the food disappears overnight. Giving and receiving are important lessons to learn.

Donations of money are put into a designated bank occount. Every dime spent or donated is accounted for.

My Son and Daughter-in-law, Scott and Kelly


Learning a Different Way to Live

We are learning a different way to live. That lesson is being applied in countless circumstances. I took my dog to the vet today. He has a couple of health issues. I pulled into the parking lot, parked my vehicle and called the office. I was sitting in their parking lot, but I called the office. We discussed my dog’s health history and current condition. A few moments later, a young lady approached my vehicle wearing a mask. We did our best to maintain 6 feet of distance while I removed my dog’s leash and she put hers on him.

I sat in the parking lot, surrounded by a dozen other cars with pet owners waiting. We fiddled with our cell phones and listened to our car radios as we grew more and more accustomed to this bizarre life.

Taking the New Way of Life Seriously

I’m in the midst of doing some selling and buying on CraigsList and FB Marketplace. These exchanges are interesting. Two of the last three have occurred in the parking lots of local stores. People seem to be protecting their homes in this way. We meet, wearing masks, and part quickly.

I go to the grocery store as little as possible, but still, it is a few times a week. I make my way into the store with mask in place. I manipulate my way to the produce section, then the bakery, deli and finally come to the aisles of processed goods. How wide are these passages of packaged food? Six feet? Seven feet? And in about three-quarters of the aisles is a person who is ambivalent to anyone around them. They stand in the middle of the aisle searching for some obscure variety of olives. They don’t move. Under normal, pre-covid conditions, I would simply have walked past them. But I take social distancing seriously, so I stand and wait for them to move on.


Dealing With Those Who Believe Differently

I had to have some work done on my vehicle last week. I took it to the shop and called a cab. When he arrived, the driver was behind the wheel, not of the promised van that would insure proper social distancing, but a compact car with only the front passenger seat available. He wore no mask.

I was hiking on a local trail with my son and daughter-in-law. We stopped at one point just to talk. Another group came up behind us. We moved an adequate distance off the trail to let them pass. One woman in the group told her people to stop until we moved farther away. We are all learning how to properly apply these necessary guidelines.


Setting the Pace for Future Generations

Five weeks ago, my son and his girlfriend went to the hospital where my first grandchild was born. A few days later, I returned home from my latest contract job in Wisconsin. I went directly to my son’s house and viewed my granddaughter from six feet away. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to kiss her head. But I had just returned from working in a hospital that was the covid center for that entire hospital network. I dared not go near the baby or her parents.

Today, after five weeks of keeping myself at a safe distance from other people, I held my granddaughter. I patted her bottom, rocked her, looked into her eyes, spoke to her, told her I loved her. I did all that while wearing one of my son’s shirts, which did not fit too well, and a face mask.


Live and Learn

I´ve learned that life will go on. It may go on in ways that are different from before, but it will go on. Children will be born. They will grow up in a different world. In my opinion, we will never be able to completely return to life as it was. These lockdowns and social distancing will need to be brought back regularly. But life will go on. My granddaughter will not have the same kind of life as her parents or me.

This hurts. All these things we are going through hurt. They burn. Feel the burn. The burn is a result of being forced to change our lifestyles. It’s like a couch potato stepping outside and beginning to train for a marathon. Feel the burn. Let’s find the new ways to live. Let’s find better ways to live.

This really is an opportunity for us to learn valuable lessons and new ways to live our lives. Once upon a time, we lived for money and wealth. For many of us, that has dried up. Now we live day to day and focus on our loved ones and friends. We give to others when we can, and when we need, we accept the gifts of our neighbors.

Live and learn, my friends. Live and learn.


© 2020 Chris Mills


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 26, 2020:

Shauna, Thank you. This whole ordeal has been quite an education.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 26, 2020:

Congratulations on becoming a grandpa and finally being able to hold your precious little girl.

Yes, life has changed, but much of it is still the same. If anything, this pandemic has reminded people of what's important and has brought families closer together.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 25, 2020:

Doris, an antibody test would confirm my suspicions.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 25, 2020:

Liz, the campgrounds here are closed, so I couldn't park my trailer there. But parking on a friend's property is ok.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 24, 2020:

Dora, Thank you. I am proud of my sons. They continue to amaze me.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 24, 2020:

Chris, I talked to people on the East Coast through Facebook who said they had the CV symptoms as far back as last August. If you think you had it in the fall, I believe you.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 24, 2020:

Congratulations to you and the parents on the birth of your grandchild. One of the things we learn from the pandemic experience is patience. It must have felt real good when you finally held her.

Congratulations also to your son on creating the food bank. Look how we are growing, adapting, and helping to make life easier for others! You've shown us the best attitude for keeping our joy.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 24, 2020:

That's a tough one, Chris. In the UK, staying overnight in a travel trailer, unless you have good reason like you are a healthcare worker staying away from home to protect your family, is not allowed. There have been incidences of police waking people up in their trailers at night and telling them to go home.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

MizB, I believe the virus was here long before when we have been told. I was so ill with a respiratory infecion in November and December 2019 that I almost called for an ambulance twice and almost went the the ER once. I was afraid for my life.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Liz, separation from family is the toughest part of all we are going through. My mother is in Georgia. I want to go visit her before I am called back to work. But should I go? We would practice social distancing. I would be staying in my travel trailer. Mom is 87 years old and in very good health. You've raised some important questions.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Verlie, it was special. Tonight, I pushed little Violet in her stroller for half an hour so her parents could eat dinner uninterrupted. She is a needy baby. She cries a lot. So I will be going on these dinner-time walks regularly as long as I am home.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Becky, Your relationship with your grandson is a beautiful thing. I know you wish it was the same with all your grandchildren, but the fact is, you have this very special relationship with the one. His personality and life are being established because of your impact on him. Nothing can match the power of a loving grandma.

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on May 23, 2020:

I share your concerns, Chris. I also too my car serviced for a smog check. It seems many auto people struggle to stay in business; service fees have increased substantially. I miss the gym. It still hasn't opened, but I have a new bicycle and get my physical exercise that way. My neighborhood's fairly quiet, and the streets are uncrowded. It's almost unbelievable this crazy new world got out of control in a few months.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 23, 2020:

Chris, congratulations on your new granddaughter! We have a new great-nephew in Albuquerque born in February and just got new photos today. Don't know when we'll be able to see him.

Here's my input: We go to the grocery store(s) about twice a week. It used to be every other day. I haven't had any online orders or deliveries because the stores haven't been well-stocked enough that I could make a minimum order. We both wear masks when we are around people and try to keep the 6 ft. distance, but other people don't always cooperate.

We think we had CV in late Jan.-early Feb. before the government said it was in this country. My husband had two routine VA appointments and a week later he was sick. We got our flu shots last fall, still, we thought it was the flu, but after I caught it, I tested negative for flu. I'm due for a checkup for a stroke I had last Oct., so I'm going to ask for an antibody test. Doesn't mean I'll get one, but I can try. Thank goodness our cats didn't catch it from us. Now I don't pet the cats when I come in until after I wash my hands thoroughly.

Yes, I believe we will never go back to "the way it was." In some ways it will be rough, but in some ways it will be better. I can't really tell from our isolation that people are kinder or more considerate. I guess once the public reopens, time will tell. Thanks for a really good article on this coronavirus.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 23, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your experiences. We live nearly 2 hours away from our young grandchildren. The lockdown rules mean that we can't yet visit them, even at a social distance. We have had a virtual first birthday party and video contact, but it's not the same. Having seen them at least every month since they were born, we have now gone 14 weeks since our last meeting. There's a foodbank in our village too. It's hard to predict when life will go back to normal, whatever the new normal will be.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on May 23, 2020:

Thanks so much for sharing these moments Chris. Beautiful grandbaby! Great that you finally got to hold her, I can imagine what an emotional experience that must have been after such a long wait.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on May 23, 2020:

Congratulations on the new granddaughter. I have 12 now, and only get to see one of them. The rest are across the country. The one I see comes out and spends the weekend with me and we spend a lot of time gardening together. He is 4 now, and loves to dig. I set him up his own little garden spot. He takes care of it, and plants in it. He also weeds it and is pretty good at taking care of it.

I have always had the stay at home bug. I love it and don't go out much. I go out to take my son to work, and pick him up. My daughter goes to the pharmacy and grocery store for me, because I hate to go places. She has been doing that for a couple of years now. I save money because I am an impulse buyer, and she won't get anything that is not on my list. My son pumps the gas and brings me money for his share of the bills. I stay at home and work in my garden. I love to be out there digging in the dirt and watching my veggies grow. I don't have flower beds yet, because I have really lousy dirt. My other son set up a rose bed for me and we had to put all kinds of good dirt in there to be able to grow anything. I have raised beds for my veggies, and when I get the chance and the extra money, I will add another one or two

I have 2 dogs to keep me company, and they run all over my 4 acre yard. I don't need to take them for walks because they are very active, chasing bunnies and lizards. One is 6 lbs and the other is 65 lbs. Funny to watch them play together. The big one is so gentle with the little one and if he hurts her, she goes straight for the throat and he gentles down for a while.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Linda, up until my company furloughed me, my life changed little as well. But now it is very different. But I am staying busy, and I hope to go back to work soon.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Pamela, I agree this has brought out the best in many people.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Anne, write as much as you want. Your comments are always interesting and relevant.

Linda Courtney from Bloomsburg, PA on May 23, 2020:

I'm one who has not had to make too many changes from before. I've always been a homebody. I hate grocery shopping so I've always gotten delivery. The main and worst thing for me is the masks. I have found I can't wear one for more than 10-15 minutes without going into panic attack mode. I do wholeheartedly agree with wearing them, I just can't. Therefore, I don't go anywhere I'd have to wear it long. My problem--no one else's. I am thankful to be able to take walks around the neighborhood on nice days. And my neighbors who I stop to talk with (at a distance). I do miss going to church and being near my fellow Christians. That's about it though. Mostly life goes on for me.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

Eryk, I agree, it is safe to assume that we will always be learining better ways to live.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020:

John, Australia deserves a break. The fires were more than enough of a challenge. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 23, 2020:

We go to the grocerty much less now, about once every other week. We are staying hom almost all the time. We have virtual doctor appts.

My son and daughter-in-law and out neighbors have even brought us food. What a blessing that is! People seem to want to help now and that makes you have such gratitude. I really like your article.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 23, 2020:

This is a great article, Chris, and a refreshing change from other Covid-based articles.

We are lucky in that we just order deliveries from various supermarkets, keep to social distancing when out walking along by the sea and have not as yet had the need to wear masks. We have masks at the ready, kindly made for us by one of my daughters.

However, I have learnt that good neighbours are to be valued highly. Not that I didn't value them before but we all look out for each other more than we did, probably because we have a united 'enemy'.

We're supporting those whose livelihood has been threatened by Covid. One neighbour's son started up a small cafe just as the virus struck; he does deliveries of delicious desserts now so we're ordering some now and then. It's a good excuse to eat a treat now and then - heaven knows, we deserve it!

I've always been ecologically aware, I love nature, but lately I've seen what a difference the vastly decreased number of cars and the absence of planes has done to our environment. The birds are singing more loudly, they seem to be rejoicing in the improved air. I want to preserve that. We have ordered an electric car (we have two gas-guzzlers at the moment) which should be delivered some time in September because production stopped for a while. I don't like flying anyway, but I'm going to spend more time than before holidaying in Britain, taking coach or train.

I've vowed to stop buying new unnecessary clothes. I have plenty in the wardrobe and coping with all sorts has meant renewed innovation lately so I shall concentrate on revamping what I've got. I shall create my own trends!

I've also learnt to be more tolerant of all I meet, of those who provide services, and even of those in government. There is plenty of criticism of how our lot have dealt with the crisis but I doubt the opposition could have done any better. Trying to gain political points from natural disasters stinks, in my view.

I'm also going to value my friends and new acquaintances even more and spend more quality time with them, listening carefully and learning from them all.

Tolerance is easy to say but more difficult to practise. It's something that is often lacking but has reappeared more strongly and should continue to be so.

When much we take for granted is taken away, we appreciate things we've done without and things we can still have; it changes the perspective for the better.

Thanks for making us think. I like these hubs of yours with random or not so random thoughts. It's just like a cosy conversation and exchange of ideas - isn't that what it's all about?

Your granddaughter is beautiful and she will grow to appreciate her granddad, without a doubt. That's what I miss most - my six gorgeous grandchildren, the youngest of whom is 19 months and changing every day. I want to give them all a huge hug!

Keep safe and well, Chris!


(Sorry! Just realised this is rather long, but you asked for feedback!)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 23, 2020:

Good to hear from you Chris. I always loved the phrase "Plan but plan to adapt."

I like any story with babies or hiking. Glad to hear how you are doing.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on May 23, 2020:

Chris, good to see something new from you. I totally understand where your priorities have had to lie recently. In my state we have had two days straight of no new cases and I think only five people still in hospital with the virus as well. Restrictions are slowly easing and we can travel up to 150km, hotels, clubs and restaurants reopened with 10 customers at a time for a meal....bars to stay closed but people can order a drink with their meal. Our borders to other states are all closed despite pressure from NewSouthWales. No flights in or out either. Thank you for sharing and for the good work done by your son and his wife also. Congratulations on your new granddaughter. I have one also born the end of April we haven’t seen yet in person.

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