Notes from Captain Optimism


I was looking out my window and watching all these neighborhood folks walking, biking, playing with dogs, shooting hoops, throwing frisbees and smiling and I began considering the benefits of stay-at-home orders.

Typically we post blog articles on Monday mornings but I was grasping for an appropriate theme and utterly flailing. We can't pretend life is business-as-usual but we also prefer to avoid a panic reaction. I surmise that most of us are at a loss for words, just awaiting some concrete prediction or instruction.

My friend asked me "what are all of our pets going to think when we go back to work?" That's a fair question; mine are having the best times of their lives. If you remove the constant concern for the future and look at your life today it can probably be measured as improved:

  • I'm spending more quality time with my family
  • My dogs and cats are getting so much attention, and from their perspective I've finally learned to live life the right way
  • I've finally gotten to all those to-do's that have been pestering me
  • I have no choice but to eat a home cooked meal at the table three times a day
  • I'm getting plenty of rest
  • I'm listening to music, I'm reading books, I painted a picture of my friend's dog for her
  • My yard has the cleanest head-start it ever has and probably ever will
  • I met four previously unknown neighbors so far
  • I've been forced to consider my spending habits and identified the important things and the superfluous things
  • I realized sports on TV, while exceptionally entertaining, are merely a distraction
  • We've spent significantly less time in traffic, making and breathing pollution
  • I've seen every sunset this week
  • I've talked to all of my long-distance friends and family
  • I'm offering help to friends, family and neighbors like a good citizen ought to

I scan that list and realize I've been doing all the things I perpetually intend and rarely carry out. I'm living a better life. I know it's not sustainable but it's worthy of gratitude for the reminder.

While never a habitual newspaper reader I once happened on an article in the Oregonian that I can't forget. I've been to weddings that I remember less clearly. It was about a guy who'd been climbing the ladder at his corporate job - "ten more hours, one more account, one more year, another $20,000 and then I'll have the security to retire." And then one day he realized he might never stop committing more his time working in exchange for the time off for which he was working. So he quit. He had a look at his ledger and his assets and punched the calculator. He sold his extra cars, downsized his house, deleted some monthly payments and retired early. He spent his time gardening, hiking, making dinner for his family. The whole family was happier and healthier. He got healthier. He bacame a sage and the backbone of his household, just by adjusting his goals and pulling the trigger now rather than later.

This crazy little virus has us all on edge. We're facing an uncertain future and our security blanket is thinning daily. But it's also an incredible reminder of what is important and what we work for that we often forget to notice. I'm aiming not to get caught up in the hysteria but to notice the many silver linings. Just look out the window. It's incredible...

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Ike Martinson
Ike is addicted to life in the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys the mountains, the lakes, the food, the people and all the seasons. He is an amateur chef, a commercial pilot and a terrible painter.

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