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Do Not Squander Time

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of."
                     Poor Richard’s Almanac June 1746


So here we are, many of us reluctant to get out in the world even if government and/or health officials are relaxing restrictions on retail stores and personal care services (with proper masks and social distancing, of course). I’m one of the reluctant ones, being of a certain age and all. Others, perhaps younger and anxious to get back to work, or living alone and feeling the stress of isolation, or even just eager to get a haircut and color, crave the freedom to get out of their homes and get on with life.

Can we have both safety and freedom? I do hope so, but when I see large numbers of people out and about, a shoulder-touch apart and no masks, I get scared. I’m afraid that belligerence will come back and bite people in the form of COVID-19. I don’t want to be one of them (and my Corona hair can keep on growing longer).

I can give you pages of ideas for truly squandering time while we do our stay-at-home duty, and to be honest, I’ve tried a lot of them and found them to be a great distraction. Jigsaw puzzles are wonderful. A Netflix series binge will numb the brain, if that’s what you want. Housework, in my humble opinion, provides too much time to think, so that’s not my favorite COVID-19 pastime.

There are options. The best one that has come my way recently was the chance to hold a high school class reunion using Zoom. Being of a certain age and all, I will not surprise you when I say this is our 60th. We last gathered ten years ago in our old east central Illinois high school, did the obligatory tour, met up a few times to chat over pizza and beer, and then went our separate ways. I believe only a few of us were interested in taking that trip again, so a real reunion seemed unlikely.

And then, the virus came.

Someone suggested the remaining classmates with whom we’re in touch, maybe fifteen or so, meet on Zoom. And that’s what we’re doing. For me, at least, this is about a thousand times more satisfying than the airport/flying/hotel/tour/dress-up-for-dinner option. I only experienced one moment of jealousy, and that was upon discovering one classmate was in Oahu and the other in Maui. Far more sobering was to hear about life in Queens during these scary times.


Now you may ask, why is a class reunion on Zoom not squandering time? Because, I respond, there’s no travel involved, and travel to get somewhere for a meeting is the biggest time squanderer of all. Someday, when the virus dies, folks will be able to travel again for fun…visit Epcot Center or Yellowstone National Park or family that they miss dearly. But meetings? I’m betting business meetings and class reunions will be Zoomed forevermore.

Opportunities to not waste time abound. Free classes and workshops. Conferences online. Instructions and tutorials to do almost anything on You Tube (I’m still planning on learning to play the ukulele this way). As stir crazy as we might be, no matter our age, there are ways to survive this experience without falling victim to AlvinToffler’s Future Shock:

“…the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” (1970)

Zoom, and all other online meeting venues, will help us through this time warp. Facebook is jumping onboard. So is Google. The times, they are a-changing, and we can make it okay.

Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards. This novel is also now available in a large print edition. Her short story, “Good Work for a Girl,” appears in the Five Star Anthology, The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West released in November 2019.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for the Colorado Sun’s SunLit feature that you can find at the Colorado Sun website.


  1. What a great post, Pat, and you are so right about the benefit of Zoom. I had a visit with my grandson and great granddaughter on zoom not long ago.

    I listened to a podcast from The Daily not long ago where a man talked about a memorial service for his wife he put together and shared on Zoom. Friends and relatives from across the world were able to participate. He said it was a most satisfying experience.

    Yes, the times are changing.

    1. Change is hard enough for people without having to go through such a drastic and abrupt experience. But I'm learning so much through webinairs and the necessity to learn new programs like Zoom that I'm coping okay. The hard part is when I think too much...the front line and essentials workers out there keeping us going; those who've been so very ill or have lost loved ones. These are tough times. We can't let them bring us down!

  2. Glad you are staying safe, as am I, being also of a certain age. The most exciting part of my day often is talking (yelling) across the street to my neighbor as we collect our mail.

    The animals, however, are out and about, with no danger from buses and cars from the local school. Yesterday, it was a fox.

    1. Hi Liz -- glad you're staying safe. It's hard to give up the social things we do, so I even find "over the fence" conversations with neighbors to be great fun.

  3. Our Sisters in Crime group had a meeting on Zoom last Thursday evening, exactly when we would have had our meeting. Our guest did her program, and we chimed in when our president released our mikes so we wouldn't all speak at once. My son is making bread starters. I got a lesson today on FaceTime. Me? I'm sitting outside, watching the birds at the feeder and waiting for the squirrels. Since I bought a long-range squirt gun, they're not coming. But they will.

  4. Sounds like a number of us are of that "certain age". Your post absolutely nails our present reality. Like you, Pat, I fear the result of getting back to normal (whatever that is) too soon and seeing COVID-19 return with a vengeance. With several writing projects in the works, I won't run out of things to do for quite a while. Meantime, keeping company with my fictional characters provides a definite respite; not a single one them has to shelter in place, wear a face mask, or endure the horrors of the coronavirus.

  5. I also am sticking very close to home, just dashing out on a grocery run now and again and pretty much that's it. Luckily, I was given a work laptop and am now doing the workaday stuff in the guest room.
    Zoom, WebEx, and so on have been lifesavers. I can't imagine what this would be like without them.


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