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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

Click here for more of the photos that inspired this column.

From the April 1, 2020 issue of The Journal
   Hopefully most of our readers are hunkering down at home, travelling as little as possible, and practicing social distancing.
   I know it's controversial to many people, but I've decided to listen to my doctor and people I know with medical backgrounds rather than the Facebook experts and conspiracy theorists.
   I plan to continue to publish the newspaper each week and that does require that I venture out a bit, but I have drastically reduced my amount of travel and am doing as much as possible over the phone and internet. When I do go out, I use hand sanitizer frequently and give others plenty of space.
   I'm also still heading out a few days a week for early morning runs. My doctor said that should be fine, but scolded me a bit for running with a buddy one day.
   Many of us are probably already starting to feel a bit stir crazy from being cooped up at home more than usual. However, there are some positives to the situation if you have the right attitude.
   One of the more amusing social media posts I've seen went something like this: "Okay, people, all we have to do to save the world is stay on the couch and watch TV for a few weeks. We can do this!"
   As sacrifices go, it's certainly not the worse thing to be asked to do. Think of the men and women who've been called on to physically fight evil dictatorships, communism, etc. through the centuries. Also think of the healthcare workers on the front lines of this current battle. They are risking their health – possibly their lives – and the wellbeing of the families they go home to each evening in order to care for everyone else. Surely we can modify our behavior to help reduce the number of people they have to treat.
   Still, while it's not the most dramatic sacrifice to be asked of us, being stuck at home isn't all fun either. It can get pretty boring at times.
   As one way to fight boredom, I suggest simply walking around your yard with your eyes truly open. Take time to look for the beauty that is there.
   A few days ago I happened to spot a bird peering out from a birdhouse in my backyard. After quietly getting close enough to take a photo, I slowly walked around the rest of the yard. As I walked, I looked closely at the plants and critters that I encountered.
   At times I sat on the grass and just observed. I saw beautiful scenes that are right in front of my eyes on a daily basis, but largely ignored.
   Bees and butterflies fluttered over beautiful blooms while enjoying the nectar they provide.
   A pair of brown thrashers (Georgia's state bird) engaged in a mating ritual or just some playful interaction. I'm no ornithologist, but they sure seemed to be having fun, whatever they were doing.
   I also narrowed my focus to look at one bloom at a time, etc. I took photos and after I pulled them up on my computer I couldn't believe how beautiful some of the images were.
   You don't have to have a finely manicured lawn or fancy landscape to follow my example. Our property is far from either of those (although it's starting to shape up a bit lately thanks to my wife, Michelle, being temporarily away from work).
   Just slow down and look closely at things you normally overlook. You'll find plenty of beauty in God's creation. I promise.

For more personal columns by Richard Harris click here.