Alan Clark

The onset of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) COVID-19 has given us new opportunities while self-isolating at home for two months now.

Whether or not the lockdowns were advisable and effective will not be debated here. Save that one for a future editorial, perhaps.

What is true is that many of us took advantage of the shutdown and voluntary (or involuntary) quarantine to clean up our acts. If you are semi-retired like me, you found time enough on your hands to do some things that have been on the back burner for awhile.

Like cleaning out your closets. In ten years, my clothes closet had suffered from neglect and abuse, such that it took an entire day to clean out old shoes, move jackets around, donate shirts and pants not worn in years, fix that broken shelf, move the old framed photos from off the floor leaned against the wall to a more appropriate space, and generally create some breathing room.

I now have about six shirts that were still in boxes never worn before out and on the shelves ready for wear.

Oh yes, and my hat collection gathering dust on the top shelf has now been whittled down to a more practical collection of headwear for all occasions, even though there are still a couple of “oldies but goodies” up there, like my father’s hounds tooth cap he always wore when visiting England and that captain’s peaked cap (white with black visor) I never could find when boating.

I can now walk into my walk-in closet without stumbling over shoes and boots and stuff crammed in there from who-knows-where.

Thinning it out was a real treat provided by the extra time isolated at home.

My chest of drawers was a similar challenge. I had crammed everything imaginable into the drawers over the years, with one in particular on the bottom becoming the repository of stuff I always meant to go through before throwing away.

Now was the time.

So about half of the old scarves, handkerchiefs (who wears a handkerchief anymore now except maybe as a mask?), and crumpled papers were taken to the garbage can.

What’s the old saying? If you have not used it in a year, it needs to go.

That left audiocassettes, CDs, 8-track tapes, and a Roku to be lined up neatly in a storage box and taken to that special place in the garage.

Publicity photos of every band I ever played with went into a folder for neatness; some memorabilia from military service also found more suitable locations, and all those greeting cards from Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions I could never part with were removed, organized and stored in another box.

Does anyone else organize old greeting cards? Maybe it’s just me?

The chest of drawers having been conquered, I moved on to straightening out the desk in my bedroom, reluctantly saying goodbye to a stack of papers overflowing from the small valet thing under my lamp.

I am sure I will regret some of the discards, but I held my breath and reassured myself that if it was really important, someone would send me another copy.

There’s also been a flurry of activity at neighbors’ homes with projects that now have time to be attacked.

Patios, porches, pools, all are being added or upgraded in some way. Yards and landscaping have been improved, and every morning there is a parade of contractors with mowers, backhoes, trailers full of lumber and brick, concrete and mulch, sand and gravel flowing through the streets where we live.

Thus, the time provided by being in isolation can be productive and not necessarily filled with TV binge-watching, overeating, wishing for a return to normal or Zooming around the neighborhood.

We might even strike up a conversation with other family members and get to know them better. Like the man says, “Never let a good coronavirus crisis go to waste.”

Alan Clark has spent his self-isolation at home in Estill Springs, with only an occasional foray to Publix at 7:00 a.m. for “Senior Time” once a week. He is currently hosting grandchildren for several days to give other family members a break from their routines and wondering what life will be like next year at this time. Whatever it is, you can read about it here and listen on his podcasts at Apple Music.