I am sitting at my desk at home, the date is March 16, 2020, the nation is urged to practice social distancing and the elderly are encouraged to stay home if possible.
When times were normal, I went to Little Tokyo about twice a week to volunteer or have a meeting with good folks about some community project or just to chat with a friend. But all my meetings for this week and for the immediate future have been cancelled.
I was reminded by a friend that the elderly should remain home and did not realize up to that point that they were referring to me!
Starting next week, I will start using something called Zoom, which can host video conferencing so that meetings can take place over the Internet. People say Zoom is easy to use – and I am already using Facetime on my cell phone, so I am looking forward to interacting with people on my desktop computer. I was warned to make sure nothing embarrassing is in the background since everyone will be able to see my bedroom, where my computer and its camera are located!
Some of you know I recently became a first-time grandparent (I have to say in all honesty I have the cutest grandchild ever!) and my wife has been helping our daughter with all-day babysitting duties. My daughter and son-in-law, as of today, are working at home rather than going into the office, so my wife is helping them with childcare while I stay at home with my 104-year old mother-in-law (who for her age is doing rather well).
But it means staying home alone – I say “alone” because my mother-in-law is deaf and not very mobile and it is not easy to carry on much of a conversation with her.
There are some movies I can watch and some books I could read. But perhaps the real challenge is how to feel productive and creative with so much time home alone.
I heard that when Isaac Newton was a student at Cambridge, the Black Plague hit London, where nearly 25% of those infected died from the disease. Newton was sent home for about a year, where he continued to study on his own. During that year he discovered calculus, discovered the science of optics and light refraction, and had an apple fall on his head, which gave him the idea that the force that made an apple fall to the ground (called gravity) is the same force that holds the moon in place. Any one of these discoveries would have put their discoverers into the All-time Science Hall of Fame.
None of us can do what Newton did, but on the other hand, we can all be productive in our own ways. I am not at this moment inventing a new form of mathematics – just writing an article for **The Rafu Shimpo,** but perhaps that is still being creative to a small extent (assuming some people actually read my articles – LOL!).
Perhaps from this time of social distancing, there will be an outcrop of great works of art or poetry or discovering news ways to interact with each other – it could happen because even though people in a crisis sometimes do foolish things, they often come up with wonderful and beautiful things.
It’s too bad our POTUS was asleep at the wheel when the pandemic arrived and even now seems clueless. And now, I am going to drive to Little Tokyo to pick up some take-out food to help the restaurants, because surely they are all suffering mightily in this economic crisis. Let’s all pitch in to help those businesses who may not make it through this pandemic!
Bill Watanabe writes from Silverlake near downtown Los Angeles and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.