By Nadia Beidas

     We are all immersed in a frightening and unusual situation with the COVID-19 virus. Every day there are higher numbers of people becoming ill and dying from the virus. Even young people are coming down with the virus in high numbers.

     In order to stop the spread of the virus, we are under a stay-at-home order in Illinois until April 30, though the order might be extended. We all must follow this order. It may be difficult to change our daily lives, or miss out on the rest of the semester and other events.

     However, nothing is more important than stopping the spread of this virus. Please stay safe, everyone.

     Technology offers us a multitude of methods of communication, and some of us might develop new communication technology in the future. Please do not forget to stay in touch with your loved ones. We may have to keep a distance, but we can still talk.

     I have been communicating more than usual with family and friends. Many of us are sending cheerful videos back and forth, or pictures of flowers, cake, chocolate and coffee. It is our way of saying we all love each other, stay safe and we hope we are together again soon in person.

     Although we are all at home, we must not fall into despair or get stuck in a rut of boredom. We should make the best of this situation, even though these are sad and difficult times.

Drs. Elvis Francois and William Robinson gave an inspirational performance of “Imagine.” This performance was featured on several new sites, including ABC World News Tonight with David Muir. Their performance shows hope during these difficult times. For more performances, please visit the YouTube channel Doctor Elvis Francois.

      Prior to spring break, as well as in previous semesters, many of us were constantly on the go and always rushing to get something done. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day to finish all the tasks we would like to accomplish. Plus, there were the demands of work, school, home and family, as well as the pressure of rushing from place to place or sitting in traffic.

     Now, at least, we can make the best of a difficult situation and take the time to pause. We cannot leave our homes except to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy. But we can use the time we have now wisely and for our benefit.

     First and foremost, we should keep up with our studies. But many of us are often saying we wish we had time to learn something new, or spend time on other activities. This is an excellent time to do these tasks.

     For example, in CaMS [Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences], many of us wish we had time to learn a new programming language. Now we can study the programming language of our choice, and write new programs.

     Additionally, most of us have been frazzled with hectic schedules, and have wished for time to relax, or to spend on a hobby.

     I remember one afternoon nearly two years ago in the Maker lab, a discussion about the painter Bob Ross somehow started at the end of the day. One student remarked at the time that he wished he had time to paint, but could not due to the demands of his schedule.

      At the time, I thought it was unfortunate the student did not have the time to do something he enjoyed or was interested in. I fully understand and sympathize with the student. I have a lot of hobbies and interests that I never have enough time for, including drawing, singing and creative writing.

     I still have my clarinet that I played in school growing up. The last time I had time to play the instrument was four years ago at Christmas. My brother brought his French horn, and we played holiday songs for our mom. 

     I could only play the clarinet for 10 minutes due to a complete lack of practice, but I loved it. I still remember the notes and how to play the instrument. I was reminded of all the joy I had playing over the years, and any opportunity to spend time with my brother is precious now that we are busy adults.

     After the 10-minute concert I could give on the clarinet, I began singing instead and my brother accompanied me on the French horn. He joked our instrument playing ability was at a 6th grade level, and I actually think he was generous in my part of his assessment. I hope to practice the clarinet again soon.

     We can all pick up different hobbies or interests. Now is the time to learn or practice a foreign language, reminisce on past pictures, cook something new, exercise, or even watch a movie or program we have been meaning to see. The possibilities are endless.

     Time is a precious gift. Once time is gone, there is no way to get it back. We always and often wish we could have done something differently if we had a chance to do something over.

     This is not the way any of us would choose to have extra time. But we are in this situation. We should make the most of it.

      This crisis will pass. We do not know when, but one day we will be back to normal. And when we are, it will be wonderful to share the new skills and hobbies we developed with each other in person.