3 positives from COVID-19 shutdown

As you may have noticed in my last column, I am a bit of a pessimist.
If I had a choice, my profile in this newspaper wouldn’t have a picture of me, but rather a cartoon drawing of Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh” or maybe a picture of the cloud from the 1999 Zoloft advertisements.
Amidst the dark, depressive vibes I’ve experienced in this COVID-19 epidemic/pandemic, two colleagues have challenged me to think about the positives concerning the coronavirus shelter-in-place mandate.
The first challenge came more through that person’s actions than their words. Inserted in each email, in the signature spot, is the phrase, “Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one that can find the gold.”
The second challenge came more explicitly. I had written some negative remarks about the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandate and he said, “Using your background in psychology and theology, can’t you find something positive to say?”
In a posture of correction and encouragement, I reflected on the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandate and I have found three positive things to write about here: Rootedness, Relentlessness, and Reflection.

In my cursory conversations with neighbors, family and friends during this COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandate, I have heard the theme of people connecting to their roots. My neighbors are outside and working on their properties, literally working on the roots of the earth. My wife has reported to me a resurgence in interest in gardening within her friend group.
A couple of trips to a local hardware store showed me that many in line had pots, soil, plants and various garden/property improvements.
The second part of rootedness I see is a rooted commitment to family. For example, my wife’s best friend has strictly sheltered in place for over 40 days in service to her niece who is immune-compromised.
I’ve also heard colleagues reflect on how much they enjoy their family time. A common refrain is, “I was so busy before the shutdown, but now I have more time for my family members.” Maybe this is interesting or not, but I’ve heard numerous nurses, family members and friends express interest in doing a 23 and Me DNA test to look into their deep-rooted heritage.
It is interesting to think that 40-plus days spent with family in shelter-in-place is encouraging people to think about the family root, that which holds society together.

If you read my column a few months back, you will understand Tim Grover’s understanding of “relentlessness.”
In case you missed it, being relentless is having the tenacity and work ethic of a Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Mother Theresa. Since the COVID-19 shutdown I’ve seen a relentless commitment to excellence by local businesses. For example, Willamette Valley CrossFit in Lebanon has developed innovative ways through Zoom to still offer workouts to gym members.
Also, Casa De Reyes, which was a traditional dine-in restaurant, has been delivering meals and offering stellar food deals during the shelter-in-place mandate. Two more which stand out to me are Oregon Tree Professionals and Westfall-Photography, which are both local businesses who started up in 2019-20.
It takes a relentless spirit to start a business and keep it running in the midst of a world-wide pandemic.

For the first time in my life, I have heard numerous friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, church members and school associates talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Conversations about religious freedom, government power, Bill of Rights, and the balance of federal and state power is on the forefront of people’s minds.
There has been time to think and reflect on things that we often take for granted when we are busy with the daily grind of life. People are reflecting on what sort of television shows their children should watch during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place time frame, how their cleanliness is a reflection of their character, and how to view education moving forward.
I am sure I have missed many bright spots and positives that are occurring during the shelter-in-place mandate.
If you have some you’d like to share with me or if you disagree with something I’ve said and want to offer an alternative perspective, please contact me at [email protected] and/or (541) 405-1511.

– Skyler Bascom is a trained counselor and pastor in the Lebanon and Sweet Home area. You can listen to his monthly podcast dedicated to helping at-risk-youth at mentoredpodcast.org