The advice, “Live for today, live in the moment, don’t keep pining for the good ol’ days” has always rung true for me, but in this time of quarantine and isolation, it’s an adage that means more now than ever. 

We hear stories from our parents or grandparents of simpler times, of slower-paced days. We hear tales of a world where neighbors knew each other, when bread was only 25 cents a loaf and a new car cost an unbelievable $5,900. “Those were the days!” we may think to ourselves. I suspect we have all experienced moments of such nostalgia to some degree.

Yet, while I sit writing these thoughts, I’m surprised to find myself feeling nostalgic for times merely three weeks ago. I see pre-quarantine photographs of friends in a group hug or large choirs singing together or multigenerational birthday celebrations for a great-grandfather, and I think, “Man, I remember that! Wow, such great times! How I long for those good ol’ days!” 

Our world — our way of living, really — has changed dramatically, and the differences between life as it was a month ago compared to life as it is now are grand in scale. We can, and should, mourn the loss of having the ability to gather en masse without fear of either spreading or contracting COVID-19. That grieving can actually be productive as it helps us appreciate what we may have taken for granted in the past: the very rational expectation of being able to find toilet paper or Lysol wipes at the store; our ability to play, sing, share, converse with each other without fear; the freedom to simply sit beside our friends without worrying about our health. 

And yet, in this instant — right now — we have the ability to make this very day one of the good ol’ days by finding the sunshine in the storm, by realizing that being able to spend a quantity of time (and hopefully quality time, as well) with our families is a treasure. We have the gift of holding loved ones close through technology. We can decide that the unexpected opportunity to prioritize our life goals is a silver lining.

Of course, that is easier said than done; our hearts may be carrying very heavy burdens. But our attitude and our outlook can, in the end, make these days some of “the good ol’ days.” 

I’m trying to take a cue from one of our national treasures, Irving Berlin, who once said, “Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

That we have clean, running water, a roof over our heads, a box of cereal in the cupboard, and electricity to light our homes make this a good ol’ day. The likelihood that new, innovative ways of treating illnesses will be discovered in the wake of this storm makes this a good ol’ day. Simply being alive makes this a good ol’ day. 

Each one of us truly possess the power to make today a good ol’ day, and my wish is that we make it so.

Deon Sagers lives in Cedar Hills.