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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: The Uncertain Marathon

Tommy Tomlinson

In our house we’re lucky to have enough milk, enough cat food and enough toilet paper. What we are running out of is energy.

Every day feels like a few brief moments of activity between dozing. Every night, when we sit down to watch some British gardening show, we nod off halfway through the episode.

The cat, Jack Reacher, wakes us up at precisely 5:40 every morning by banging on the blinds. Why 5:40? His internal cat clock must have decided that it’s too early to get up and too late to go back to bed – in other words, the time that would irritate us the most.

He had not been doing this before the Virus Days arrived. Maybe he is sensing our anxiety and just wants some company early in the morning. I’m trying to be charitable here.

The point is that we’re really just one week into our homebound existence, and everybody in our house is exhausted.

I think most of us think about being tired as something that comes from a long day of physical labor or a workout at the gym. But you can also be mentally tired, or emotionally tired, and those can be just as draining.

The hardest part, at least for me, is not knowing when things will get back to normal. If you have to run a marathon – I’m speaking theoretically here, in my case – you know that the distance is 26 miles and 385 yards. You can train for that. You know exactly how far it is to the finish line.

With the virus, all we know is that it will be weeks or months before things get back to normal. But we don’t know how many weeks or how many months. So we don’t know how much food to stock up on, or when kids will go back to school, or – for some people – when they’ll be able to find another job.

It’s a math problem with no solution. That’s the kind of thing that keeps people up at night, cat or no cat.

So we do what we can. We get outside, even if it’s just on the porch. We work on crossword puzzles and Bananagrams. We make sure that the first person up makes a pot of coffee. (My friend Brian Koppelman calls the first cup of the day the Royale. The Royale tastes extra good these days.)

Mostly, we try to catch up on our sleep. There’s no vaccine for the virus yet. But there is a vaccine for the stress. It’s called a nap. 

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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