I just got back from the supermarket. Like most everyone else, I got hit by a wave of toilet paper anxiety and felt the need to stock up. I realize there are all different kinds of wealth and all different kinds of poverty, but toilet paper poverty seems like it would be pretty bad. A part of my job as a psychologist now is to help people appreciate the wealth they have, including their wealth of solitude. I encourage all of my clients to get out of the house and get some daily exercise. I took a walk with my dog and did some push-ups before I went on my toilet paper mission. Push-ups have replaced the YMCA for me. My wife thinks I might have a push-up disorder.
My daughter called during my walk in the woods and said that she tries to pretend she is a lion when she goes shopping nowadays. While this mindset has proven to be helpful for her, it can be a little stressful for the rest of us to be in a store with a bunch of people who are pretending to be lions. I first tried to pretend I was a Buddhist monk when I entered the store, but then it occurred to me that I really had no more idea what it was like to be a monk than what it was like to be a lion. So I decided to think like a backpacker since I’ve had so many great hiking experiences—some without toilet paper.
I met a woman in the paper goods aisle who said she was going to say a toilet paper prayer for us. She said the good thing about praying is that there were no bad side effects. I didn’t bother mentioning that I sometimes repeated a short Hebrew prayer while doing my push-ups. Within minutes, a stock person magically appeared with a dolly of Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper. We rejoiced, while making sure to remain six feet apart. I sense we are all learning how to be friendlier during this period of social distancing. It doesn’t have to be a time of isolation. The coronavirus can’t be spread with a wave or a smile. I kid my wife that she would win the Most Friendly Pandemic Person if such an award were given. It is always a blessing when you feel you have something to learn from your partner—just as it is a curse when you feel that you don’t.