Goosebumps pop up on my arms as cold air blasts me when I open the old screen door to the porch. The long, wet painted floor planks with peeling paint reflect the sky, and the distant fog has turned the mountain a light gray-purple color, barely visible. Wet spring greens contrast brightly against the dark sky. Carefully, I make my way to my favorite experience — sitting under the long porch roof during fierce rain and thunder. As a child, we had no porch, but we would roll up the garage door to sit and enjoy storms, and every time it thundered, we would say that God was bowling.
Counting my blessings this morning, knowing that being cooped up with a wooded backyard and a neighbor with 40 acres helps me cope with knowing others are stuck in a tiny apartment and can’t even go for a walk for fear of infecting or being infected. Last night this masked, gloved hombre risked his life driving three minutes down the road to pick up a bottle of wine to make our Saturday feel a little more special. It’s the first I’ve been in the car for two weeks. Even though I only encountered a clerk behind glass, and washed down the wine bottle while still gloved, it was almost more risk than I should have taken.
No matter how much disaster preparation I’ve done to be ready over the past decades, I never anticipated this. But staying home is a small price to pay to keep from infecting someone or being infected.
What good could possibly come of this?
My reaction, my fear, my concern for others, and the sadness of watching Facebook friends post sad news of family members and friends who are ill or worse, makes me want to default to depression. But I refuse to give in — reminding me of the famous Churchill quote about never giving up or giving in.
When we keep our perspective, it helps. Churchill made that speech while England was being bombed continuously. By September 7, 1940, London had been bombed for 56 out of 57 days, and for over nine months. People were not only stuck in their homes or in bomb shelters, lights had to be out; food was in short supply; factories were not only shut down, most were destroyed; and in the nine months of bombing, 43,000 people died. And though the death toll of COVID-19 is staggering, at least we’re not having the stress of bombs rattling our neighborhoods and wondering if we’ll be randomly killed. I can’t imagine that stress.
I decided to look up that famous speech … and share a couple of passages.
“We must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. It is generally said that the British are often better at the last. They do not expect to move from crisis to crisis; they do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance of war; but when they very slowly make up their minds that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months — if it takes years — they do it…
“As Kipling well says, we must ‘…meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same.’
“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination, not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period — I am addressing myself to the School — surely from this period of 10 months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
“Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
“Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941, Harrow School
As we sit quietly in quarantine, it’s important to keep our perspective to manage our fear. We can certainly tolerate the stress of watching movies on Netflix, reading a few extra books, or having deeper, more meaningful time with family members or video calls with friends.
Though I don’t like my station in life at the moment, I’m embracing it for what it is. My business may be crumbling and my laid-off employees are suffering, as are over 6 million out-of-work Americans. We’re all wondering if our world will ever see daylight again, if we’ll ever be able to pay our mortgages or rent, if we’ll be masked forever.
I don’t think life will ever be the same. Yes, we will return to a new normal, but we have each grown from this experience and taken hold of something from this that has enriched or informed our lives. We’re seeing how strong we can be. We are discovering things about ourselves we did not know. Those with businesses, myself included, are discovering new ways to do business, which will continue after the all-clear.
Of course, none of us wanted this to happen, but each of us will be better off for it in some way. This has strengthened our marriage, given us more time together, kept our busy teenage triplets at home, and we’re seeing them playing, doing projects, and involved in things they had no time for before. They’ve been forced to be creative, to grow. And while their last few months at home would have been them spending no time with us, off with their friends, we’re getting the gift of time with them. Deep, rich time.
I’m so impressed with human ingenuity, watching friends do things they never would have imagined. Their imaginations are on fire to develop solutions to help others, to expose their enterprises, to survive, and those innovations will make them stronger in the long run.
I’m also impressed with how we are coming together as a people. We share this fear, this problem, this quarantine, with the world. Because of some of the initiatives I’ve been forced to come up with, I’m meeting and chatting with people around the world. They are helping me, I am helping them. I realized after talking with a new acquaintance, an artist in Iran, his issues and my issues and concerns are the same. I’m realizing we have more in common than not. We’re connected by our passion for art.
Advice from a Therapist
We each have different viewpoints on this crisis. Some predict it will never really end, others predict a lull and then a resurgence, while others feel it will all be over rapidly. We don’t know. My friend Leslie, a therapist, suggested I tell people to watch enough news to be informed, but don’t become obsessed with it to the point that you start scaring yourself more than you should be. Worry about what you can change, not what you can’t change, and stay in the present. Are you safe now? Change what you can change in the next 15 minutes. Don’t ruminate about six months or a year from now. I thought it was valuable advice. I would add, find something to look forward to, something to get you excited, something you can learn at home, a project you can take on.
Don’t Look Back with Regret
As I was walking into my office last night, seeing piles of projects I’ve been meaning to get to one day, I realized one day has to be now or it won’t come. I don’t want to look back and realize I had endless hours wasted on social media when I could have been checking projects off the list.
You’ve learned that you are stronger than you realize. You’ve learned so much about yourself. Be thankful for this time because you may never have learned those things. There truly is a silver lining to this dark cloud.
Resolve to make the best of this.
Connect deeply to those around you.
Reconnect with people you normally don’t have time to talk to.
This is a golden hour. It will come to an end. Maybe soon, maybe not, but it will have an end. When that end comes, you’ll be busier than ever.
Take advantage of this time.
PS: I’ve been trying to help in any way I can. Trying to help those in my tribe have tools to get through this, and things to do. I’ve listed them below. Make good use of them.
For those who want to learn to paint, but don’t feel they have talent/can’t even draw a stick figure: free lessons at www.paintbynote.com.
For those who want to watch top artists at work, see how they paint or draw, get into their heads, we’re doing a Facebook Live daily at 3 p.m. Eastern. And all the past content is shown on that page. Go here.
I’m doing a daily update (mostly for artists) daily at noon Eastern on Facebook Live. I’m out of friend slots, but you can follow me to get these. Go here.
An interview done by Jean Stern with me about what artists and galleries can do to survive. Watch it here.
An interview I did with Jay Abraham, the $100,000-a-day marketing consultant on what artists and galleries can do to survive. See it here. It’s also posted on my ArtMarketingMinute blog and my PleinAir Podcast.
An interview I did with Jay Abraham that every business person and small-business person in the world should watch about the opportunity at this time. See it here.
My art stimulus package. Here’s how it works: Artists and galleries will post links to their paintings or websites on their social media and tag it with #buyartnow. People who want to buy art to help them survive can put #buyartnow into the search on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter and browse through what others have posted.
On Tuesday I’ll be interviewing business guru Lee Milteer about what she thinks you can do to take advantage of this crisis. Watch for it on my Facebook.
My team is working around the clock to come up with new ideas and implement these things. YAY, TEAM!! Thank you.
If you want to support our efforts, here are some links to products we offer:
Art instruction videos:
Magazines (maybe you need a subscription)
Social Media Links
- My Facebook
- My Instagram
- Realism Today: Instagram or Facebook
- PleinAir Mag: Instagram or Facebook
- Radio Ink
- Radio + Television Business Report