On a recent Saturday night, Tina and I were captivated by a superb concert presented by Una Voce Chamber Choir at Crooker Auditorium. The concert featured an eclectic blend of music and poetry, enhanced by the musical virtuosity of Palaver Strings, based in Portland.

Virgil Bozeman, the choir’s masterful Artistic Director, explained the concert’s theme in the program notes. “The title, taken from William Wordsworth’s ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality,’ is meant to suggest the ways in which we sense the divine and eternal that surround, inhabit and comfort us.” I later learned that many of the singers also teach music and conduct choirs, which was not surprising given their ability to perform such challenging music.

This concert gave the talented singers the chance to perform with this group for the first time in two years. As a bonus, the audience members were able to find a few rays of sun amidst the storm clouds.

Our collective challenge, it seems to me, is to find hope in this time of despair in the nation and around the world. Every person must find ways to deal with the challenge, but here are some of my thoughts.

Moderate your news consumption. I plead guilty to tuning on the television to learn the latest news about the pandemic or about Trump’s treasonous efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. I’m doing what I can to be safe during the pandemic, and I can only hope that the wheels of justice will finally bring down Trump and his fellow grifters and shameless enablers.

Savor the arts. For me that means taking in a play or a concert or even turning to YouTube to play some old favorites. Go to YouTube, for example, and watch the breathtaking performance of Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres skating to “Sounds of Silence.”

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Read. I can’t imagine a life without reading. I recently finished Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War,” and I’m now plowing through his follow-up epic, “War and Remembrance.” I took needed breaks to read some stories from “The Best American Short Stories 2020. I also read “Rigged Justice,” the memoir by John Vandemoer, who was ensnared in the college admissions scandal in 2018. (NOTE: Vandemoer didn’t emerge lily white from the experience. While he took no money directly to help students gain acceptance, he didn’t properly vet students who purported to be sailors.)

Get outside to clear the lungs and cleanse the soul. In the aftermath of the recent blizzard, our family members who had gathered to celebrate Tina’s 80th birthday took time to romp in the snow and hurl snowballs and just be kids again.

Lift up someone. We all need lifting up: our friends and family members, for sure, but also others with whom we come in contact, even total strangers. A kind word given here and there reaps great rewards for all.

Write a story. I’ve had a fine time teaching a Flash Fiction course for the Midcoast Senior College. The eleven members of the course have really stepped up to write stories that engage and move the reader. As a bonus, I’ve enjoyed writing to the weekly prompts right along with them.

Do something new. Psychologist Rich Walker of Colorado State University – Pueblo looked at 30,000 event memories and over 50 diaries, ranging from durations of three months to four years. He found that people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people with fewer new experiences.

Enough. I’m heading outside now to take a walk and feel renewed by the cold winter air.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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