Twenty seconds is a long time. Especially when washing your hands. I've noticed that lately. Maybe you've noticed it, too.
It might seem even longer if you were, say, in an earthquake. Or shorter, if you were running late for your own wedding. I've done both and survived. It's hard to compare them.
But time always seems to fly when we want it to slow down and crawl when we want it to hurry. Yet the clock keeps on ticking at the same speed.
Recently, I flew to Wichita Falls, Texas, to speak at a fundraiser for "Hands to Hands," an organization that funds programs in its area to help their neighbors in need.
Thankfully, there are similar programs all around the country in places where good people do their best to be good neighbors.
Kindness is a mark of a caring, thriving community, a blessing to all involved, both those who give and those who receive.
It was a joy taking part in that fundraiser and meeting so many fine people. Lord, I love Texans.
But with the growing concern over the coronavirus (a concern that soon spiraled) I tried to practice "social distancing" and washed my hands as often as I could for 20 seconds, or while singing "Happy Birthday" twice. (My grandson Wiley prefers to wash his hands while humming Darth Vader's Theme.)
I flew from Monterey, Calif., to Wichita Falls, spoke the following evening and flew back the next day. It was only 60 hours, give or take, but I could almost bet I washed my hands several thousand times.
Once home, I checked my temp, showered, slept like a baby and woke the next day feeling fine, no symptoms.
But I'd heard that it's possible to become contagious with the virus before symptoms appear. Rather than take the slightest risk of passing that virus to anyone — maybe even to my grandchildren — I decided to "self-quarantine" for two weeks. Or longer, if need be.
That's easier for me than for many of us. I work at home. My husband is retired. We're fairly well stocked with food. And we're fortunate to have family nearby who, if need be, could leave necessities at our door.
It has been four days so far. No symptoms. I woke this morning to much-needed rain, and sat for a while in a lovely stillness, drinking coffee and watching clouds drape like quilts over the Santa Lucia Mountains.
Every year, California's hills transform like magic from summer's tarnished gold to spring's emerald green.
I wish you could see it.
Spring brings its splendor to other places, too, of course, in all sorts of spectacular ways. I'll always remember the bloom of dogwoods and wild azaleas in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas, where I grew up.
But I feel at home now in these hills. In springtime, when they turn green, I like to imagine they're singing a song I call, "Hallelujah! Life Persists!"
Who knows? Maybe I'm not imagining it. Maybe, wherever you are, spring sings to you, too.
My self-imposed exile is allowing me to slow down and enjoy things I usually tend to do in a rush: Phoning friends and loved ones. FaceTiming with my grandkids. And reading poetry and Psalms that feed my soul.
I've also been making cookies that we shouldn't eat. They taste even better than they usually do.
Mostly, I'm content to sit and listen to the hills sing their song. Every year, just when I think spring will never come again, those hills start to hum.
Sometimes they seem to be shouting at me as if they know I need to hear it more than ever.
Never in my life have I heard them sing as loud, and as clear, as they are singing now.
Listen. Do you hear them?
Hallelujah. Life persists.
Twenty seconds is a long time.
And every second is a gift.
(Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or by email at email@example.com.)
Style on 03/24/2020
Print Headline: Coronavirus reminds us what 20 seconds feels like