Silver Linings in Hard Times

A few weeks ago, I started asking “What is something positive you heard or saw or did today?” And “Where are you finding or creating silver linings during this time?” I asked myself, people nearby, and those across social media.

I was struck at the time by how much light was all around in these dark times, and I wanted even more. And please understand, I don’t take lightly the suffering, illness and dying going on around us. This is obviously a major crisis, unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.

We are far from flattening the curve in Wisconsin and the U.S. Our lives are upside down. Businesses are failing, folks are losing jobs, and tragically, people are dying.

But the loons are again visiting the Madison lakes, nature breathes, and fewer cars are on the road. If we look, we see all around the goodness in people shining through. The generosity and compassion rises and almost seems to eclipse the fear and suffering. People are helping people. We’re hungry for this kindness and connection to others and the world around us.

When I began asking the questions, I was in the midst of a weekend of light in the darkness.

My wife Betsy and I were on our front porch, about to take a walk, when I saw a young family out front looking around our yard, with what appeared to be a list in hand. “Are you on a scavenger hunt?” I called.

Peter Leidy in fake fur coat that is small on him

“Yeah!” yelled one of the children.

“Anything on your list we can help you find?”

“We need a fur coat!” I smiled and glanced at Betsy. We were thinking the same thing: Good luck on the east side of Madison. “But it doesn’t have to be real fur,” said another kid.

“Hang on – I might have something,” yelled Betsy as she went to the closet.

At this point one of the adults clarified: “It can be fur or something that resembles fur. And we need a picture of a man wearing it – or someone who identifies as a man.” I couldn’t help laughing.

Betsy arrived with a small sherpa jacket, which I happily attempted to put on, meeting the man criteria on both counts. Pictures were taken, and they were on their way, thanking us with “We’re gonna win for sure!”


On our walk we saw people we hadn’t seen in weeks. We met red-winged blackbirds scoping out nesting sites by the Yahara River. We found colorful appreciative messages on sidewalks. We heard more sounds of nature than traffic. We got messages about opportunities to help our community in a variety of ways. What was coming into focus was what really matters.

sidewalk chalk heart - thank you health workers Sidewalk chalk thank you to Rachel

What if we could find ways to slow down like this without a pandemic? What if we felt the urgency to help others, look out for those who are lonely, and appreciated all the gifts around us, in normal times?

To paraphrase Brother David Steindl-Rast:

If we could live each day as if it were our first day and our last day, then we would have a very good day.

And so I’ve been trying to observe, and listen, and create. I’ve had moments of fear and sadness, yes. But also moments of deep gratitude and joy.

Our daughter Sadie, who lives in Atlanta, began working from home and decided to offer Zoom yoga classes each day. Unexpectedly available to join in, participants have created a global community comprising 8 countries and many parts of the U.S. Adults, children, pets – everyone is welcome. You can learn more on the Sadie Yoga website.

yoga kid - on back of yogiyoga cat sleeping in sunbeam

Here are a few more examples of positivity from near and far (note, some of these came in before “stay home and at least 6 feet away from others” orders, school closings, etc)

Roger:  I get to wake up with Calvin every day!

Trish:  Enjoyed our new home today. Saw three of our grandkids. Two new calves!

Nancy:  A complete stranger who was ahead of me in line at a convenience store bought my coffee along with his purchase.

Andy:  People saying “I love you, how can I help?”

Debbie:  I had a student with anger issues make me a card, saying thanks for the things I do, especially buying jello for the school store.

Jennifer:  I saw the beautiful moon this morning.

Judith:  My neighbors down the street texted and told me that their family loves me. (I’m 81)

Tina:  I watched my rabbi deliver a shabbat service via Facebook live.

Elida:  Fell asleep and dreamed in Italian that I was in Italy.

Tim:  I saw a wren in my garden! He or she flitted wordlessly from bush to bush and that was enough for me. Little perky tail, made my day.

Minnie:  My neighbors knocked on my door and moved a heavy TV stand for me.

Gay:  I will be putting children’s books in my Little Free Library every day until I run out since the kids will now be home. (I’m setting up a disinfectant system.)

Michelle:  I love this idea of people sharing good experiences at this time! I love that there is so much of an outpouring of support for our fellow neighbors to give a free meal, help with childcare, or do what needs to be done. I have hope for the future that things will shift on a world scale. That we stay kinder, we shop local, we consume less.

Michelle:  My family has 2 bikes among the 3 of us. Both bikes are un-ride-able at this point. A coworker offered to take them home, fix the brakes and replace a cable on one, and replace the chain on the other so we can actually get outside more together. I already knew I had the best coworkers anywhere, but this one I barely know.

Carol:  We are in our mid 70’s. Our wonderful younger neighbor is doing our grocery shopping for us.

I’d love to hear your good stories. We need them! Please share widely including with me on my my business FB page

One Response to Silver Linings in Hard Times

  • Peter Leidy

    Peter Peter Peter, we need your voice every day. Signed, the whole world.