The new beard is progressing nicely.

Let’s start with an update about what’s weighing most heavily on your minds. Nope, not who’s going to pay for COVID-19 facility testing, or whether the virus can spread through overhead paging. Not how you’ll keep residents and staff safe when family members are finally allowed to pour through your doors like Visigoth forces sacking Rome in 410 A.D. 

No, what you care about most deeply is the health and status of my beard

Well, it’s fine, and thanks for caring. I do nothing whatsoever to encourage it, yet much like COVID-19, it continues to spread and grow, proving the unstoppable power of nature even in periods of crisis. In this difficult time, it has become very like a pet, always there to love and support me without blame or judgment. I feel it watching with eyes of abject adoration while I work, and running my fingers through its fur always brings a measure of joy and contentment.*

Late at night, when the anxiety vultures circle overhead, it crawls up next to my face and I can almost hear it purring. When I wake in a panicked sweat, it whispers, “There, there, you’re not alone, I’m always here for you,” and I pat it gratefully on the chin and drift back into a peaceful sleep. So, yes, I’d say my beard is progressing nicely, and I’m relating to it in entirely normal and healthy ways. 

For those of you seeking a different coping path than obsession with facial hair through this pandemic, might I suggest walking, gardening, swimming or dancing. I say this because a new preliminary study suggests that people who do those things regularly have bigger brains. Why brain size is an advantage I’m not sure, as I’ve always been told it’s what you do with it that counts, but I’ll trust the scientists on this. Apparently the effect of these activities equaled four fewer years of brain aging. 

While the study doesn’t specifically address whether greater brain volume is protective against COVID-19, it stands to reason that someone with a big brain would have higher cognitive function, so would understand the importance of masks and eagerly wear one. Unfortunately, that would help other people with smaller brains remain virus-free, and therefore able to continue endangering the lives of others by refusing to wear masks. 

That good news/bad news conundrum makes my brain hurt, and I fear it might be shrinking as we speak. Time to dance in the garden. 

*Yes, I know I’m in violation of face-touching restrictions. But my beard is so adorable, I just can’t help it. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.