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Sharing Mana‘o

“Every cloud has a silver lining; and He who wove it knows when to turn it out. So, after every night, however long or dark, there shall yet come a golden morning.”

— From Nil desperandum, an essay by Sarah Payton Parton in Home Journal, 1853

In the midst of this COVID-19 cloud which has enveloped the world, silver linings sparkle in every corner, every community. And now that Maui County’s “stay at home, work from home” rules are in effect, we all need to remain vigilant, not only in adhering to the emergency directives, but also in our quest for those unexpected bright spots.

Social distancing (or, as some are starting to call it, physical distancing) has given us greater social awareness. People are reaching out to friends, neighbors, and strangers with offers of assistance, including grocery shopping, errands, chores, etc. Something as simple as a daily phone call makes a tremendous difference in the life of a lonely shut-in.

Along with heightened awareness comes deeper appreciation. During and after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, our nation celebrated first responders and emergency personnel as heroes, rightfully so. Now, as we adjust to life under this cloud of global pandemic, we applaud the intrepid efforts of those on the front line, our medical and health care workers. Just as importantly, we’re gaining an appreciation of the services and folks we’ve always taken for granted: government employees and officials, public utilities, and every single person in the supply chain of groceries and goods.

On a personal level, I’m discovering silver linings and golden opportunities daily. Before the COVID-19 crisis, most of my waking hours were spent preparing for and performing emcee and storytelling gigs. Now, although I miss the public interaction, I’m enjoying rekindled relationships with my home and my self. My long-neglected ti-leaf garden, unopened boxes from my move three years ago, the old costumes piled in the corner of my closet, all the “one of these days” projects are finally getting my attention. I’m cooking meals, cleaning house, mending clothes. And I’m making sure to balance all that productivity with a bit of pampering; binging on “The Wonder Years” and classic sitcoms, soaking in ginger-scented bath salts, re-reading favorite novels, and an occasional — OK, daily — indulgence in Cheetos and/or ice cream.

Even the double-edged sword of social media sparkles with positivity. Just scroll past the gloom-and-doom rants, name-calling and conspiracy theories, and you’ll find hilarious memes, creative and clever video clips, and faith-restoring anecdotes, all inspired by our new reality.

A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post by Jim McLemore, better known to local music fans as Jimmy Mac, suggesting a virtual concert series whereby out-of-work musicians could perform and collect tips online. John Henry, proprietor of Maui Coffee Attic, immediately jumped at the idea and, little more than a week after Jim’s post, the first Shelter in Place concert at the Coffee Attic will take place this Saturday. Hopefully, the series will continue on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., throughout the duration of Maui County’s emergency rules.

John Cruz will headline the concert, which will be streamed via Facebook Live on the Maui Coffee Attic page. Rock guitar goddess Danyel Alana will open the show at 5 p.m., followed by country/rock guitarist and vocalist Bryan Wade. Online viewers can tip or make donations directly to the artists, through PayPal or Venmo.

I’ll host the event, which is strictly closed to the public. Even the musicians and I will not be allowed any guests, in order to stay well within the recommended less-than-10-people in one place. And, yes, we will maintain 6-foot distances from each other. (Another silver lining: I’ll have the dance floor all to myself!)

Because nourishing the soul is as essential as feeding the body, The Buzz 107.5 FM is sponsoring the Coffee Attic’s Shelter in Place series. Though we won’t be broadcasting the concerts on the radio, The Buzz will keep our listeners informed of each week’s scheduled lineup.

I have one more COVID-related bit of news to share. The Maui News, like all of us, must tighten its belt to survive this economic disaster. As such, starting today, I’ll be Sharing Mana’o only half as often as I have. That means no column next Wednesday, April 1, and every other week after that. Silver lining: I can stop fretting over a fresh idea for April Fools Day. No joke.

* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears Wednesdays. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.