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KOUTOULAS: If I only had the time…

If someone had told me a few months ago I would be given the opportunity to work from home for a month or two — perhaps more — I would have been ecstatic. I’ve always wanted to telecommute. 

The nature of my work in IT is such that there is virtually nothing I can do in my office in Lexington that I can’t do in my home office in Winchester. It seemed like a dream, the idea of not having to get up early enough to shower, get dressed and make the 30-minute drive to work every morning. 

Working from home would free up so much more time to spend as I wish. Besides gaining an hour of commute time, I could spend my lunch hour in any manner I chose. Rather than being committed to my employer for 10 or more hours every day, I’d be giving up just eight hours. That’s 10 more hours a week to do as I please. 

But my employer’s policy prohibits telecommuting regularly. So I assumed I would never get the chance. 

Then the coronavirus pandemic happened.

Suddenly, policies were changed. Schools, and eventually offices, were emptied. We were asked to stay home and work remotely.

My dream came true. 

It’s not quite working out the way I expected.

Don’t get me wrong. I am more than grateful to be among the fortunate ones still drawing a full paycheck while sheltering in place.

I know there are millions of people who are still out there risking their health and that of their families to provide essential goods and services and millions more who are at home not by choice, but because their jobs are gone now. Most of them are suffering an economic hit. 

I remind myself daily to count my blessings. 

And yet, I’ve felt more anxious and slightly depressed as the weeks have worn on.

There have been unforeseen challenges to working from home while surrounded by family. There are distractions. There are issues with internet connectivity and not always having the right tools at my disposal. 

Then there is the issue of what to do with all that free time. 

There are so many things I’ve put off doing until “I have more time.” 

One of my favorite pastimes is rummaging around yard sales, antique malls and downtown shops such as Mason and Eklektic Alchemy. 

Another thing I’ve always wanted to do but never seem to find the time for is spending time at our excellent library. There’s something about just being around books that stimulates me. I could spend hours among the stacks, time permitting. 

Then there are the movies. I rarely watch movies in the theater these days. Again, who has time for that? 

A few other things I could be spending some of my free time on include hiking in the Red River Gorge, trying out more restaurants and making dates to meet more of my “Facebook friends” in person. 

But as our governor wisely admonishes, we “can’t be doing that.”

On the other hand, there are many things I can do.

I can spend more time with family members who live with me. Family dinners are more common than they used to be, and that’s been nice.

I can work in the garden, the lawn and other outside projects.

I can read. I do have a stack of books I want to dive into. 

I can listen to more music. Besides streaming, there are many inspiring videos of musicians at home now available on Facebook and YouTube. 

I can dive into that long list of movies and TV shows sitting in queues.

I can organize something, do some spring cleaning, do more writing, more meditation, more back porch sitting. 

My wife and I can take some drives in the country without stopping. 

And when things finally return to “normal,” I’m going to resist leaving behind all the little things I’ve learned to appreciate during this crisis.

Make this the new normal. Take time for me, for my friends, for my loved ones. 

And by gosh, I will get out and savor just being social again.

Pete Koutoulas is an IT professional working in Lexington. He and his wife have resided in Winchester since 2015. Pete can be reached at pete@koutoulas.me or follow him on Facebook at fb.me/PeteTheSun.