SAMARA BENZA, Features Editor —

No one wants a bouquet of mushrooms and dying flowers but it seems that is what we currently have in a vase on our tables. Constant news updates, new restrictions, online classes, and a crashing stock market are just some of the dying flowers in a metaphorical bouquet. In times like these it is way too easy to focus on the dead roses, rotting mushrooms, and under watered greens overwhelming our eyes. 

    But, as Zig Ziglar, American author and motivational speaker said, “it is not what happens to you that matters. It’s how you respond to what happens to you that makes a difference.” 

    So how can we take the atmosphere of stress, anxiety, and panic overpowering our lives and turn it into a better bouquet of flowers? The simple answer is perception. There is no doubt that what is happening in the world is scary and we have to be cautious and make changes to our daily lives. But the world hasn’t stopped spinning, the sun still rises, and we can still find something to smile about. 

    One of the biggest positives coming out of this social distancing is the environmental impact. People are staying inside and reducing carbon emissions. Take Italy for example. Due to their own social distancing methods, cruise and cargo ships are not traveling the canals and cars are not driving on the roads. Emanuele Massetti, an expert in climate change, in a Washington Post article explains that soon Italian citizens, “will enjoy the cleanest air ever in Northern Italy.” People are no longer taking the long commutes to work and tourists aren’t polluting the streets and canals. Similar effects can be seen in China. Nitrogen Dioxide levels have dropped significantly all over China, according to a tweek by NASA. The environment is getting a chance to breathe to have some fresh water put in its bouquet. As the United States is social distancing too, we may just experience some of these benefits for ourselves too. 

    An all too common conversation I see on our campus goes: “Hey, (fill in friend’s name) how are you?” “Tired, what about you?” “Same.” Students are overworked, overwhelmed, over committed, and over exhausted. Whether it’s clubs meeting at 10 p.m. because that’s the only time people are free, long nights spent awake doing homework, or being pulled out of bed at 11:30 p.m. by friends to go relax and have fun, sleep is hard to come by. Now that we’re all socially distant from one another, your friends cannot drag you out of bed and it’s hard to go rock climbing when all the rock gyms are closed. We now have time to sleep. Yes, it is terrible we cannot see our friends in person, but we can make a date with our pillow. Think of social distancing as time to create a deeper connection with your bed.

    Everyone has a book they’ve been meaning to read, shows and movies they’ve been hoping to catch up on, and coloring books they’ve been wanting to color. Now is the time we can do it. Time spent stuck inside is the time we can learn to entertain ourselves and do things we’ve always wanted to do but were “just too busy.” You can’t go out now so it’s time to catch up. Read Jane Austen (Emma is wonderful), watch Dead Poets Society and color a pony. Now is the time you’ve been asking for. Don’t waste it.

    The bouquet of flowers you choose to put on your table is up to you. Right now you have to keep the mushrooms and dying flowers, but you have the ability to put some fresh ones in there too. Give the bouquet and your life some fresh water and direct sunlight.