The View From Here: A matter of time

Volodymyr Kish.

The COVID pandemic has drastically changed the way we have led our lives over the past six months and there is little sign that it is going to go away in the near future. We have been forced to isolate ourselves in our homes and minimize our contacts with the outside world. Our social lives have effectively disappeared and our traveling days are on indefinite hold. What we have been left with is a lot of time on our hands, time that if not creatively used, can easily lead to depression and anxiety.

So, Doctor Kish, what do you prescribe to help deal with the ennui and psychological doldrums that this virus has brought? I am glad you asked. We have seldom had such an opportunity to devote some time to important things that we have either never thought of doing, or have put on the back burner, because life has become so busy that there just isn’t enough time for everything we would like to do. So, I would like to offer a few suggestions as to how we can constructively put all that free time we now have on our hands to good use.

If you are retired as I am and have succeeded in raising a family to carry on your genetic legacy, then I would strongly suggest that if you have not already done so, that you sit yourself down on a regular basis and write your autobiography. I have often lamented in my weekly columns how I regret not having spent more time with my parents when they were alive, learning about their individual histories and life experiences. We don’t appreciate the value of such family memories until sadly these people are gone from our lives. Further, I have virtually no information, and very few pictures or written documents of any kind about my grandparents. As for anything even further back in time, there is nothing but a black hole. Believe me, there will come a time when your children, grandchildren or great grandchildren will really want to know what you were like, and what life was like in your time. Give them the gift of your life story. Leave them a written legacy that will last forever.

In a related vein, we are of that generation when photography became cheap and easily accessible to almost everyone, leading to the fact that our lives have probably been extensively documented from the day we were born. Digital cameras and camera equipped smart phones have made photography even more ubiquitous. I would hazard to guess that most of us have literally tens of thousands of pictures in either prints, slides or digital forms. I would also assume that most of those images are not very organized or catalogued. Now would be an opportune time to devote some effort towards sorting our photographic treasures and making them easily accessible and viewable. With digital images, there are no shortage of tools to help in this process, and with those taken in more recent decades, the images themselves contain the dates they are taken, as well as tagging details that you can attach to make searching and sorting easier. As for those old prints and slides, I would suggest that you scan them into digital form and use your computer to organize and display them. Your computer almost certainly has software included for enhancing your photographs as well as creating slide shows. Further, once your photos are digitized, their picture quality will not deteriorate, and they can be preserved indefinitely. As an added bonus, you can easily share your pictures with anyone at virtually no cost.

I have been working sometime now in organizing my vast trove of photographic treasures which numbers well over a hundred thousand pictures and videos, and I think it will take several years yet before that project is complete. In the process, I have found the need to master photo-editing software to enhance and restore old or flawed images. I have undertaken to learn the functionality of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom software. These are powerful software tools and learning them is no easy matter. This can be said of most of the software that we commonly use on our PC’s and smartphones. I think most of us know the rudiments of how to use word processing, spreadsheet and other common applications on our computerized devices, but over the years, these have become far more powerful and capable than most of us realize. Now, with some time on our hands, we have the opportunity to learn how to use all those “bells and whistles” that we knew were there, but never had time to learn how to use. There are lots of free tutorials and “how to” materials available on the internet, and we should take advantage of them to become more productive and proficient in the use of these software tools.

As part of the process of becoming more efficient in the use of computer tools, we should take the opportunity to do a through spring cleaning of all that stuff that has accumulated over the years inside of our computers. It is time to get rid of all the junk we will never use, and applications that are obsolete or been supplanted by something newer. This also applies to the physical contents of our homes. Now would be an opportune time to go through our closets, basements, attics and storerooms, and purge them of all the stuff that we will likely never again use or for that matter, that we have forgotten we ever even had.

We should take advantage of the forced isolation that COVID has imposed upon us to tackle those projects that our normal busy lives have kept us from doing in the past. In every constraint there also lies an opportunity.