“Coping” is the word of the day. However you define it — as handling, confronting, enduring, surviving, dealing with, facing, weathering, hacking or even carrying on — it’s a key to getting through these complicated times.

The uncertainty of the impact of the novel Coronavirus, political discord, climate change, economic downturn, social isolation and, yes, racial and other societal tensions can cause us to be both depressed and angry.

That’s pretty normal right now, but it doesn’t have to define us. We can choose the ways we cope. We don’t have to wallow in upset. Instead, we can turn to those things, events and people in our lives that bring us some sort of equilibrium and, at best, joy.

My standard response these days to the question, “How are you doing?” is “So far, so good.” I think that’s both honest and informative. To date, I have escaped Covid infection. Three adult grandchildren have had it and survived with only a few residual symptoms and are back working again. Of course, I worry about the others, but they seem to be careful and to take preventive measures. I find some comfort in that.

I find that comfort and the ability to continue coping through a different kind of socialization these days. Distancing prevents the physical closeness of past times. I miss hugs and touch but have found that other forms of contact can be helpful too.

I relish the letters, phone calls and emails that I receive. They are the “oil” for the “troubled waters” of my being. I guess we could call that “distance socializing” as did the authors of the recent “World Happiness Report.”

I miss the occasional evening out with friends to visit, dine, attend a concert or a play, but I can pretend I am doing that IF there is something worthwhile on television. If not, I can lose myself in a good book. For those of you who like a good story about a fascinating character written well, I recommend Mary Doria Russell’s “Doc.” It is the fictionalized tale of Dr. John Holiday, best known to most of us for his role with the Earp brothers at the O.K. Corral.

Friend Karen LaDuex loaned me her copy and I now have my own for future re-reading. Writers such as Russell allow us to enter another world and, in this case, another period of time. We can thus escape the cares of the moment and come back to them refreshed. That’s one way to cope.

Learning about history can help, too. Our country and others have rebounded from traumatic times. Understanding economic cycles can help us entertain hopes for better years ahead.

Then there is the value of appreciation. You may already know that some unknown sprite recently decorated the city of Osawatomie with random pumpkins of all sizes. They appeared suddenly, and finding them became a game that let us be childlike in our searches and our delight. Thanks to that mystery someone for these moments of pure glee.

At home after a pumpkin search, I find pleasure in cooking decent meals. There is something healing about baking in the oven now that the weather is cooler. It sustains me. It’s not just the act of preparation or the tantalizing aromas that accompany such efforts but also the awareness that I am doing something healthful and useful. I think it’s important to say “Grace” after those meals as well as before them. That sense of gratitude helps with enduring.

So, folks, I hope you will choose to join me in “carrying on” and not allowing ourselves to be worn out or worn down. Stay safe!

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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