This article appeared in the July 27, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Nudging people out of pandemic ennui

image from social media video
College student John Capron, who resides in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood, plays a piano at ReMARKable Cleanouts in Norwood, Massachusetts, on Saturday July 25, 2020.

It’s amazing how life-altering – and far-reaching – a modest effort to break pandemic ennui can be.

Take the young man who, while browsing recently in the ReMARKable Cleanouts warehouse in Norwood, Massachusetts, asked if he could play a piano – and charmed shoppers with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” A worker posted the moment to Facebook, and soon a much larger audience was smiling, some offering to buy him the piano. ReMARKable owner Mark Waters decided to gift an even better one – if he could figure out who the player behind the face mask and hoodie was. He did a local news interview – and John Capron came forward.

“I didn’t know I affected so many people,” mused Mr. Capron, an architecture student and self-taught pianist. Mr. Waters couldn’t stop smiling: “If you can bring [a piano] into somebody else’s life and bring it back to life, God bless America,” he told WCVB Channel 5. “That’s what life’s about.”

Or take Chang Wan-ji and Hsu Sho-er, whose dry cleaning business in Taichung, Taiwan, slowed amid the pandemic. Their grandson, Reef Chang, convinced them to model abandoned clothing items on Instagram to buoy their spirits – and what started as a playful diversion has delighted a global audience who send messages, and local customers who visit more. Chang Wan-ji says he hopes to inspire his fellow octogenarians to be active.

And his grandson? “Lately, whenever we eat together,” he told The New York Times, “I can tell they’re elated.”

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This article appeared in the July 27, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/27 edition
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