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Gee on:Self Care

C.S. Lewis, along with his Oxford University faculty colleague and friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, are two of my favorite writers. They were both in the army in World War I, serving on the front lines at the Somme, and later lived through the Blitz and the terrible challenges of World War II.

Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are allegories about faith and purpose in an uncertain world, much like the world in which we find ourselves today.

Some 72 years ago, Tolkien urged Lewis to write an essay called “On Living in an Atomic Age.” In the resulting essay, Lewis urged that if danger finds us, let it find us “doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep.” Of course, as I noted in a previous post, social distancing is vital to stopping the spread of the COVID-19, so we cannot gather with friends for a game of darts. But we are fortunate that technology can unite us with friends and family. While I do not recommend playing darts via Zoom, other fun options such as charades, trivia contests and Pictionary come to mind.

The important thing is to avoid isolation and the depression and anxiety that it can provoke. Checking in on friends and loved ones not only makes them feel better but does wonders for your own mental health. Experts also recommend sticking as closely as possible to a routine. While I am spending more time these days on hobbies that enliven my spirit, such as reading and listening to music, I am also putting on my bow-tie bright and early each morning and attending to West Virginia University’s business with my usual intensity, albeit in unusual ways. Some of my most rewarding conversations have been with students, who are realizing just how much they love and miss their Mountaineer family.

I do believe one of this pandemic’s results will be a discovery that there are many ways to communicate remotely without losing the comfort of human relationships.

We must not forget that the good deeds we do and the love and support we show others during this difficult time will live on long after we are on the pandemic’s other side.

As C.S. Lewis said about things that scare us — from atomic bombs to deadly diseases — "they may break our bodies, but they need not dominate our minds.”