Daily Times columnist, correspondent

Lee Zimmerman is a Maryville resident and longtime freelance music writer, reviewer, critic and blogger.

I believe there’s a yin and a yang to this world today. For every tragedy we encounter, there always seems to be a hopeful sign. Whether it’s through sheer resilience, the kindness and generosity of people reaching out to help the afflicted, or merely the simple gestures that bring hope, humor and reassurance, good always seems to come from adversity, even in the darkest of times.

It’s not surprising then as the world faces arguably the single most calamitous event since World War II, we find the yin to that yang in the form of heroism, encouragement and the willingness to find a way out of the abyss.

It goes beyond wishful thinking or political pontification. It’s about those who are actually working to find a solution, to being hands-on and by offering encouragement and actual involvement.

Distancing is something we’re now practicing in a physical sense. Yet distancing ourselves in any kind of spiritual, compassionate or caring way brings a much more decisive divide. Our thoughts should always be centered on those who need our support the most — the brave doctors, nurses, health care workers, the ill, the unemployed and all the others affected by this terrible coronavirus malaise. A cavalier attitude and acceptance of the fact that there will be suffering doesn’t equate with empathy or understanding.

Finding some positives in the pandemic

Granted, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about lately given the bleak circumstances imposed on us by the pandemic. It’s fortunate that efforts have been made to find a search for a vaccine or ways to open up the world and revive a sense of normalcy.

Personally, I prefer prudence when it comes to reemerging into everyday environs that might prevent us from social distancing, at least until there’s a clear sign that the virus is on the wane. In my estimation, simply saying it’s safe doesn’t make things so.

Still, I’ve found that there’s a lot that can be accomplished in a state of seclusion. Much of it is is in the form of hobbies. I found two model kits that I’ve had under wraps for nearly a decade, and I’ve set a goal of actually building them, a pastime I haven’t pursued since I was a kid. Some people are putting together jigsaw puzzles, a goal that takes diligence, dedication and time. Lawns are looking beautiful as folks get outside, take advantage of the sunshine and plant flowers and foliage to keep their yards looking pristine.

I’m also taking some time to read some of the many books that have been gathering dust on my bookshelf. It’s a joy that I’ve forsaken in recent years, choosing instead to surf the net, continually glance at my phone or skim a magazine. I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to get involved with an extended narrative. I’ve discovered what it means to have my hands on a real page-turner.

I continue to write as well, and while several of my regular freelance outlets have placed me on hiatus, I still work every day. My Senior Survival column is one example. I also finished my next book a month ahead of schedule.

We’re also binge-watching some television series we weren’t familiar with before, among them the two new Star Trek series, “Voyager” and “Picard,” the dark drama “Ozark” and the hilarious comedy “Schitt’s Creek.”

In other words, now is the time to indulge. Take quality time with the family. Find new pastimes. Or simply relax and meditate and consider the blessings you’ve accrued despite this new calamity.

Sadness in saying goodbye

I mentioned at the outset that here’s always a yin for every yang. My wife, Alisa, and I awoke on the Saturday before last to learn that a dear friend had passed away the night before. It wasn’t the result of coronavirus, but rather that all too common killer, a heart attack. The yin was the friendship we had developed with Tim over the past five years. The yang was the fact that he had been taken from us all too soon.

It’s difficult to prevent grief from overcoming us. His presence is still so large. His dry wit was so subtle at times that sometimes I didn’t even realize he was cracking a joke. He was a dear friend and good and gracious individual.

I can’t claim to know how to deal with death, even though I’ve had friends and family members pass away throughout my life, beginning with a friend in elementary school and a roommate in college. Each time I was left numb, attempting to deal with a new void and emptiness that I was never able to completely comprehend.

I feel that way now.

I suppose there’s some solace in the fact that he entered our lives and brought us such joy. Likewise, he left us with a lesson: Appreciate your friends and family. Tell them how much you love them. Let them know they’ll never be forgotten because indeed, they never will.

Email lezim@bellsouth.net to reach longtime freelance music writer, reviewer, critic and blogger Lee Zimmerman.

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