There is no normal. What we knew it as, what we came to understand, is gone. People will be more distant, six feet away may become the new two and hand sanitizer will be a household item. This virus, this plague, has struck a different kind of fear into our hearts. The fear of the unknown. We can watch the news and keep our finger on the pulse but ultimately, almost no one knows how this operates. It’s easy to become fearful. To let our minds dictate the scenario, entertain cataclysmic thoughts and let paranoia run rampant. I fell to that at the beginning of this. I fell, and when I recovered I came to a new paradigm. To cope, I had to get back to the basics. This is my story, and it all starts with a chair.

I found an old, rusted chair the second week of isolation. It’s not a good chair, it was just something I saw, picked up and sat in the middle of the land with. I live on a small farm, so there’s plenty of land that I could sit on, but that day I wanted to sit right there in the middle. There was a lot going on. My grandparents who own and also live on the farm were fearful of everything, my house was a total mess, I was struggling to keep up with my classes and finally, the isolation was having an effect on my mental health.

Then I had an epiphany. Come to Jesus moment, rock bottom, whatever you want to call it, I had it. I realized that to cope, I had to simplify things. Go back to the basics, work on something that I can see an immediate effect. Hard labor is food for the soul, and I was starving. So I stood up, saw a path of massive weeds and plant growth, got down and pulled. By the end of the day, I had our tiller out and I was tilling the earth. No thoughts, no fears, just work. That evening, I went inside and ate some pizza, then showered and sat in my chair.

Now, my view was different. My view was a fairly large-sized piece of land that I had done something to, that I had made. It was direct, it was deliberate, and importantly it was immediate. So I drank a little water, got a massive light from inside the shop, and went back to work. I was determined to see this thing through; I had gone starved for too long to quit eating now. So I worked, and worked, and before I knew it I saw the sunrise. For the first time in a long time, I watched it rise and peek out from behind the clouds. I sat in my chair and I watched it. My view was different.

With the sun out, I put up the light and grabbed some tools to make a raised box bed for the garden this was turning out to be. Took me about half the day, and once I set it in the garden I had all sorts of problems. So as I figured all of it out, eventually the sun decided to sleep. It no longer shined on me, and I sat in my chair to think about the day. My body was begging me to rest, to recover from hard labor, but I held it off for a little while longer. Before I knew it, I woke up in my chair. I had fallen asleep looking at that garden, looking at my work.

As I stood up and stretched, I felt content. I had done something, I had bided my time with something productive, I planted a seed inside me not unlike the ones I was getting ready to plant that day. I realized that this is it. If you want to cope with what’s going on, you have to get out of your own head. Maybe it’s not a garden with you, it might be a board game. It may be cross-stitching, or art, or push-ups, it doesn’t matter. Get out of your own head. Stop thinking so much, and stay busy. Make your view different. I know mine is.

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