Being Busy & Taking Heart

June 4, 2020

Written by Art Petrosemolo

Several years ago, in my younger days, someone told me when I complained that I was too busy that I was too busy because I wanted to be busy! And only I could change that. I may have smiled but didn’t change a thing. Now years later, I understand what they were saying. My friend was right. I really wanted to be busy and I continue to want to be busy. During the last four months, it has served me well. I continue to search out and write stories about people, places and things as well as continue to support my Plain Community friends—who have taught me so much—as needed during these troubling times.

Maybe that has been a godsend during this stay-at-home virus period when doing nothing is easy and getting bored can happen in a day. So to my friends who read my blog when I blog, I’m sorry…. I’ve been BUSY with some other stuff and today realized that it might be nice to relax for a few minutes and blog again.

We have been in a stay-at-home mode here at Garden Spot and elsewhere for nearly three months and we all miss seeing friends face-to-face, meeting them at events or going for dinner at the Harvest Table. We make up for it by talking on the phone or socially distanced visiting with them on their patio and praying that we’ll see a return to what we remember as normal sooner rather than later.

As a newspaper writer, I am used to being face-to-face with my subjects to read their expressions as well as hear their words. That has changed now and I do many of my interviews on the phone and go out only for photos. I even take photos of some of my subjects wearing their masks.

For Memorial Day and Flag Day, I did stories on area vets. I wrote about D-Day vet (less than 1,000 still remain) Paul Winters here at Garden Spot before the pandemic and it ran June 3. I wrote about WWII Okinawa vet Harold Bingman in May, during the midst of the pandemic, and because Bingy was hearing impaired, we did it 10-feet apart in his dining room with facemasks.

It turned out that we both had to (almost) scream to be heard and I could not see the emotion in my subject’s face, naturally, when he talked about some pretty horrific times. We got it done.

Besides writing, I’m reading a lot more and on a regular basis and listening to books too. I may have two or three going at one time from history to science fiction. You can only watch so much television and so many series although I have become a big fan of PBS Masterpiece’s Last Tango in Halifax for the last two months. I am sure you have found something to binge on too.

As a reporter I read newspapers for background too—usually on-line now—to catch up on local, national and world news. I have a good friend David Shribman, the Pulitzer Prize winning, former executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who is a syndicated national columnist now and his opinion pieces for the Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston and New York papers have given me a different perspective on a lot of issues. I know I just can’t make voting decisions this fall in a vacuum.

My summers are usually filled with trips across the East to photograph major sailing regattas and this year I was on the books for eight events from Cleveland to Marblehead. And, you guessed it; all have been postponed until 2021 so I have to be satisfied with taking photos of farm-related subjects for Lancaster Farming. Hey, it’s better than not photographing
I am finding too I have more time to reflect, meditate and pray, especially lamenting the passing not only of GSV friends but colleagues and friends from across the country since the first of the year. My mother always said that she knew she was going to heaven but the getting there always was the issue. I now understand what she was talking about.

Recently, a storage drive I used for my work and photographs had a catastrophic failure and I literally lost years of research, stories and photos. And although a computer firm in Ephrata helped restore some of the data, it came in with no organization and will take me months to sort it out and re-file, but now I have two back-up drives instead of one. But if that is all I have to worry about this week, I consider myself lucky.

A Mennonite pastor, comedian and cruise director for the Plain Community and friend—Ryan Bomgardner—said to me in an e-mail this week when I reached out to retrieve some data lost from my hard drive, “Art, take heart, remember, it’s God who is in charge…” I got it!

Stay safe all. Remember God’s in charge.

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