Doing the doggy paddle is one step ahead of treading water and swimming in place. That would describe the past few weeks, as emails come in faster than they can be read or answered. In the old normal, from the coziness of a home office, emails would be caught up by about 11 a.m. and then it was off to the office.

Feeling lucky, counting blessings, and feeling grateful is enough to get through most days. Lucky starts by having a job and a wife you love. The difference is the wife loves you back, while the job, not so much. In these trying times, difficult decisions on how to keep the team intact weigh heavily on the heart when balanced with the reality of “what is.”

Saturdays have been an important part of the work week because it’s the day when catching up on the week's misgivings happens, as does writing columns and a general clean-up, readying for a new week ahead. Sundays are the chill day, and have been for almost two decades. COVID-19 has changed all that.

When you go through something like this it tests people. My wife is up to it in every way, doing what she does best; Martha is a giver. It’s Sunday and she has left me a breakfast of an egg, ham and cheese sandwich in an English muffin, with a tangerine and tea, before heading back to her sewing shop across the yard. She will continue to sew masks for friends and strangers, at three per hour, a task motivated by love.

We’ll get some Sunday time, a beach walk and run with our dog Rosie, but it won’t come until late afternoon, after emails are caught up, a column written and the long to-do list for Monday completed.

This is all new territory, not complaining, still grateful and also curious as to what the “new” normal will look like, hoping working Sundays is not part of that because leaving that behind in the 1990s was the beginning of a balanced life.

Am also wishing Midcoast neighbors the peace and serenity to go to battle tomorrow if they are on the front lines as hospital caregivers or working behind the lines to feed us. To others, help them find the serenity granted by time alone to contemplate who they are and what they can do to lift themselves and others. My serenity on the Monday list will be a 4-mile barefoot run, with work being another organic week where “water over rocks” will provide the path meant to be.

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Last week writing about the CARES Act provision was a lesson in learning, something that only happens when one is open to being wrong and curious about what others have to say. Thinking it was a reasonable request to keep the negativity out for just one week, a respectful request to keep politics out of comments was not well received by all, with a few simply ignoring it and others calling it out, respectfully, as not reasonable.

The argument was that giving Maine Sen. Susan Collins high praise for her work co-authoring this important legislation that will save millions of American workers from permanently being laid off, keeping them connected to their employer while we flatten the curve of COVID-19, is important and historic. In the column, Collins was referred to as a “patriot” for her tireless work co-authoring and leading this bill to passage.

My opinion of Collins as a “patriot” was more than bashers could stand; while knowing that the column was about the CARES Act, one (me) should have foreseen that all things Collins would spring up after giving Collins her rightful credit on this historic part of the bill. It was unfair and not realistic to think one (me) could or should limit comments, yet the internal battle for asking this seemed OK considering the motive was to seek discussion about the CARES Act and stay away from negative political discourse that would take the conversation down a rat hole, making us all want to scream and rant. What a dilemma!

In the end, it was wrong to expect the conversation to go that way; that’s what “water over rocks” is about. Most of the comments on social media were respectful of “the ask” while challenging the request. Most of the commentators were restrained and their reasoning interesting. That became the focus rather than the CARES Act or Sen. Collins, with the rat hole mostly avoided.

The learning was that a choice was made by the author (me) to include credit where credit was due, thus opening it up to political rancor. You can’t “have your cake and eat it too” was the lesson learned and asking for a moratorium on the hate and fear that drives our political discourse these days was not a fair ask when you make it political by giving credit where credit is due and invoking words like “patriot” into the conversation.

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“Curiosity is a lust of the mind.” — Thomas Hobbes, philosopher (1588-1679)