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The Mast-Head: Openings in Lockdown

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 19:17

Learn something new. Of all the thoughts I have heard or read on enduring the pandemic lockdown, this has been the best advice. And with Memorial Day weekend seeming suddenly upon us, virus or not, expanding the mind or skills could be an emotional lifesaver.

Intuitively, many people I know on the East End have been drawn to new things — baking bread, gardening, sewing masks, typing, computer coding, and so on. As the weather gets steadily more favorable, other options arise, such as sailing, surfing, and getting a new bicycle just to ride around on the wooded roads around home. It feels like an antidote to the twin stresses of financial worry and mortality.

Parents tell me that their children’s feelings about so-called remote learning are mostly negative, particularly among high school students. And yet their developing minds do not stop. Unchallenged, kids and adults alike might sit and soak in their own boredom.

I tend to be the sort of person with a to-do list a hundred miles long. In fact, mine get so complicated, I often break them into sublists, then divide the tasks among four corners of a priority grid, with the most urgent and most important at top. Nonetheless, two of my Covid-19 goals have been to try my hand at plaster repair and welding.

One of the Rattray kids is building an end table for herself, after having become proficient in needlepoint and dog grooming. The eldest, home from college, wants to make a “pong” table, as in beer pong, though she is loath to call it that. The youngest has been taking online drawing classes and is interested in helping to mow the lawn and attack overgrowth with a string trimmer.

Two cousins are getting a crash course in roof repair, turning an outbuilding into a “she shed.” Another two want to build a treehouse.

There will be mistakes made and splinters in hands, paint will drip, and bread will fail to rise, but if we all try to learn something new, we may emerge from all of this a little better than we were before.

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