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We’re guessing none of us uttered the phrase “social distancing” prior to a couple of weeks ago. It’s now in our lexicon, along with “binge-watching.” Circumstances have again conspired with language to spawn shorthand to convey the meaning of what formerly took a sentence to describe.


Sadly, for some, COVID-19 means quarantine and isolation. For others, our need to “distance” impairs their income and makes child care juggling more difficult. For many, work and learning must come through new and awkward channels. Economic woes? For sure. But for the fortunate, social distancing can be what we make of it. We’ll miss out on favorite sporting events, but many of us may have “found” time.


Easiest, would be to squander it, streaming talking heads spouting anxiety-inducing speculations. But, if we’re intentional, maybe we can put social distancing to good use, personal growth and help to others. Let’s make the best of the opportunity.


Our virtual world has encompassed much of what was previously limited to physical form. At our disposal, from the hygiene and comfort of our homes, is a digital library of billions; pieces that can inform, educate, entertain and amuse us. In a world where the joy of reading has been squeezed out, a little social distancing might let it sneak back in.


“Call me Ishmael,” but why not finish that classic you never finished in high school?


Not a reader? No worries. Some suggest the audible word enabled by digital technology will be more transformative than the printing press. Today you can listen to books and podcasts miraculously packaged into your smartphone, all while exercising, operating heavy equipment or waiting on a loved one.


Or, enroll in an online class. Music? It’s just as accessible. Why not find out what your kids or grandchildren are listening to? “Alexa, play songs by Billie Eilish.”


What an opportunity to influence a kid! Bring some adult stability to her crazy world. Turn off your phone.


Ask her to do the same. Sit down on the couch and read to each other. It’s hard to imagine, but some young people have never played a board game or even understand the concept of one. And, while you’re finally getting to that overdue garage cleaning, dust off those baseball mitts, grab the ball and a kid and enjoy a game of catch. That’s a sporting event the NCAA can’t cancel.


Too often, hot humid Kansas days arrive before we realize we missed spring. Not this year! Take advantage of our public parks. Strap on the hiking boots and head to those trails at Lake Perry. Or, grab the bikes and hit the miles of bike trails, all within minutes. I hear the crappie are biting at Lake Shawnee. Fish on!


Social conventions sometimes change for the better. Does anybody really enjoy shaking hands with the sniffles? Elbow bumps and “air-high-fives” may be better.