I must admit to a certain degree of sadness at the loss of college football this year. Oh, I know several conferences have decided to forge ahead with abbreviated schedules, and others are involved in lawsuits asking for the universities to re-consider, but the virus, I believe, has other plans for all of us. Has it been difficult to acknowledge that an unseen microbe can derail the world? No question about it. However, in light of all the great changes, fall sports would seem to be of lesser importance. Yet, football, soccer, cross country, tennis, all sports have always been markers of the season, a joyful celebration of strength, ability, and talent, a way for fans and fanatics to champion their alma maters and their personal favorites.

Losing those activities that defined the seasons of our lives has created a well of sadness that challenges the mental health and stability of many fellow citizens. It falls particularly hard on those who live alone. I often ask myself what I can do to ease their solitude. What can I do from my own imposed ‘house arrest’? As we sink into fall, our possibilities of walking off the loneliness, of dispelling the emptiness long hours alone bring, will narrow. I can make a difference, however, can give all of us a sporting chance to stay the course, remain vigilant, and stay well.

Here is my list of actions to take. Maybe you will find them helpful.

Number 1: Even if you aren’t interested in publishing, you can write your own story. Think of how welcome your words will be for family members, friends, and neighbors who have no clue what jobs you held or where you visited. Yes, this endeavor is memoir. It does not have to be offered to anyone other than family, but it can serve to anchor you in your own story and give those memories a longer life. Of course, it’s possible you have a fictional story you’ve been itching to tell. Now is the time to flex those typing fingers and craft the tale.

Number 2: How about using all those cards sent, unsolicited, from charities to our homes? I send mine to stay in contact with friends I haven’t seen or talked to for a while. Sometimes, I page through my address book and pick out a person with whom I’ve fallen out of touch. Yes, you will need stamps, which gives you a chance to venture out for a moment and supports our postal service, under fire on many fronts as I write.

Number 3: I actually avoid talking on the phone as much as possible. I can’t see facial expressions or body language or interpret comments meant to be funny or ironic. But during these times, I find myself orchestrating calls to family and friends, hoping that my concern for them will overshadow my introvert ways. Even better is to employ Facetime or Zoom to see them as you re-connect. I admit there will be technical issues, but we must persevere!

Number 4: Decide to learn a new skill. Perhaps there is a language you have always wanted to speak. Maybe you miss the symphonies in your city. The arts in our communities are suffering from this prolonged shutdown. I have discovered Youtube videos that can fill our home with the wonderful sounds of music, share dance performances, or broadcast plays and musicals. Many artists are also offering concerts for a small fee. Those, too, we can share with our friends who live alone, watching and listening at the same time despite the distance between us.

Number 5: Exercise! Accept the challenge of getting in shape, whether it’s simply lifting bags of sugar in lieu of weights or treadmilling every day. Again, setting a challenge match with a friend can serve to lighten both your spirits.

I’m certain you have more and better suggestions to help us go on, to share the burden and the stress of days spent reminding ourselves to wear our masks, wash our hands, and be safe in this time of COVID.