Last spring, when we were all naive about the realities of living during a pandemic, we listened as politicians and public health officials advised us to practice a thing called social distancing. Then they asked us to stay at home, telling us we would all be safer that way.

We were told that if we stayed home for a couple of weeks, perhaps a month at most, we could return to work and to our normal activities. We should probably be OK to enjoy the summer, they said.

We had no idea that the word “normal” was about to be destroyed.

Many people took home a few items, enough to work remotely, an idea that seemed like a nice break from the routine. But they soon came back, emptying desks and cabinets, and leaving a nation full of vacant offices, unoccupied businesses.

The virus swept through our world in waves, extending our home time from weeks to months. Our working lives may never be the same.

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As we hang on the edge of a vaccination that might help us get past COVID-19 and return to our families, friends, and co-workers, we can’t help but wonder how much longer this can last.

A veteran marathon runner said, "I don't ever think about the finish line. As soon as I start thinking about getting to the end, it's over for me."

He explained that the marathon is too big to think about at one time. He had to run Mile 1 and then run Mile 2. He could think about running a mile, but not about running 26 miles.

He said he had to stay steady, to celebrate small goals along the way -- reaching a certain mile marker or a landmark along the way. He had to monitor his well-being, taking care to drink enough water and eat enough calories to keep him moving efficiently.

The first documented case of COVID-19 in the U.S. came Jan. 21, 2020. It might help us to take a closer look at the mile we are running right now, to make the most of this day, this week, in whatever way seems most meaningful to us. Like a marathon, the pandemic is too big for us to think about as one event, one time period. If we break it up, we might handle the pieces more readily and reach the end, whenever it comes, in better shape.

We might do well to adopt a marathon mind.