I remember riding around in the back seat of my Dad’s 1970 Ford Mustang.

It would be a Friday or Saturday night, and often my brother Jeff and I would be involved in parental dates – sometimes my parents’ “dates” consisted of driving us around for hours, because they couldn’t afford a babysitter.

That was the start of how I came to love the Beatles. We would listen to their albums on 8-track, driving around and all singing the whole time.

Music has always played an important role in my life, and I’m never completely happy when I’m not actively involved in it – whether I’m playing it, recording it, or mixing it.

It’s probably no surprise, then, that I have turned to it so frequently during these COVID times. We’re all bombarded with news about the pandemic, and sometimes we all feel like climbing under the covers and shutting everything out for a while.

And while music has served that purpose for me, other people have interests that are filling that void for them, whether it’s baking, gardening, or even taking this time to make all of the home improvements that they never seemed to get around to.

Here are a few thoughts that might make your days brighter during this craziness.

Think about what got you here

What shaped the person you are today? What is the thing that you always find joy in?

Maybe it’s something you are still active with, or maybe it’s something that you haven’t done in a long time.

I know a few people who say “I never had something like that, I don’t know what it is.” But after talking to them a while, they remember something from their childhood or growing up that they loved, and they find themselves thinking “I forgot all about that. Why did I ever give that up?”

So, what brought you here?

Incorporate it into your weekly plan

Most of us are working from home as much as possible (if we’re lucky enough to still be working).

That can lead to a feeling that you are always at the office.

If you incorporate an activity into your regular routine, it can help prevent you from getting stuck in the monotony of work, and forgetting that it’s important to have some “me” time, now perhaps more than ever.

When the pandemic started, I put a priority on finishing a home studio that I started a couple of years ago. It took a few months to do it, but it gave me purpose and now provides me with a place to escape to when I need to be creative.

Now, my weekly routine involves at least one night a week working in the studio. I’ve also found that there’s often nothing better than spending a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee in the studio, too.

Share it with others

Music is communal, and while most musicians are not performing in public at the moment, there are other ways to share.

Many of us send recordings back and forth via email or Dropbox, getting and giving feedback to each other.

All of us are so connected these days through social media that finding a local group with common interests is likely less difficult than you might think.

Some things may surprise you, too.

My other big love – baseball – has been shut down until just recently. But when I used social media to share an old polaroid of my Little League team winning a championship in 1978 (you guessed it, we were cleaning out the basement), I was elated to receive many responses from teammates.

Can you spot me among the 1978 Elmhurst Pony League champ Tigers? 

People started talking about other teams we played on back then, and they started posting the team photos on social media, and soon the conversation included many more, all sharing stories of games we played against each other so long ago. (I was secretly glad to know I wasn’t the only one who kept those old photos.)

Whatever that thing is for you – think about how you can share it with other people.

Don’t be afraid of tangents

We all know the Internet is a huge rabbit hole. But in times like these, is that so bad?

I have found some YouTube channels that are very helpful with my music recording and mixing. They are constantly being updated with new content, which is important, and I visit them regularly.

At the same time, I have also come to appreciate the other suggestions that YouTube makes based on what I am watching.

In a Six-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon sort of way, I can be watching a recording tutorial on a topic and the next thing you know I’m watching John Cleese and Marty Feldman do a comedy sketch from an old BBC show I’ve never seen before.

Sites like YouTube and Netflix are great for content you never knew about, and they can be great distractions to help from going batty when you are stuck at home.

And in the end

Find something – or a few things – that you are passionate about, and figure out how you can do them now, given our current conditions, and how you can involve others in the process.

Having some distractions that you love can help make this lonely time a bit more bearable.

For John, Paul, George and Ringo, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

I can’t say I disagree with that, though I might add one thing: be kind.

We’re all stressed out. Most of us are all not feeling ourselves, and many feel lonely and disconnected.

Exercising patience right now may not be easy, but it may be the best sort of exercise we can have these days.