Although I do hope for a return to a rather “normal” level of worry regarding health, safety, and financial concerns of day-to-day life, I somehow find myself cringing when I hear people wanting things to go “back to normal”. My personal experiences with COVID-19 thus far can be considered mild compared to those whose experiences are the basis for such heightened fears. Nonetheless “back to normal” feels overwhelmingly like it would be a return to somewhat blindly moving through life. Back to a full schedule of “non-essential” to-do lists. Back to being on-the-go, a hard-pressed busy-bee, and all the other hyphenated and non-hyphenated descriptions of the daily-grind in a big city. Back to merely existing in our routines, not consciously and thoughtfully living.
“Back to normal” would mean not having been essentially forced to evaluate and reevaluate, well, everything. Truly appreciate our interconnectedness, our impact on the world and each other, recognizing the beauty of our surroundings, our absolute necessities, and the simple joys in life. Not just to know these things to be true, but to wholeheartedly experience them, and continuously value them throughout the day, every day.
“Back to normal” would mean not being able to witness what the sky looks like with less pollution. How wildlife behaves, and how nature regenerates when areas are not overcrowded by humans. Not thoughtfully evaluating what is being frivolously used in our daily lives. What negative habits and actions are being done in excess or unnecessarily. What becoming a global team, sharing helpful information and working together, across borders and oceans looks like. “Back to normal” would mean a continued lack of a much needed profound level of gratitude, empathy and understanding. It would mean continuing to dismiss individuals in our community that have critical importance in our daily lives as “menial laborers”. It would mean judging and assuming a wrong turn was made to wind up living on the streets, broke and homeless. It would mean not having even the slightest idea what it’s like to have limitations on common freedoms, or for them be completely taken from you all together. “ Back to Normal” would mean not having a regular conversation about what “safer at home” can actually mean for the elderly, the addict or for the abused. Or having an increased understanding of the value of access to good health care, any food let alone good food, feeling the warmth of sunshine on your skin, the relief of a cool breeze, to a pencil and paper, to a book, internet access, a phone call, a hug and a kiss.
Granted many of us, have had plenty of eye-opening experiences that have already gifted us with life altering levels of gratitude, empathy and compassion. You may already have been thankful on a daily basis for all the earth provides, marveled at nature and been conscientious of your carbon footprint. You may have already been thankful for various forms of human connection and the value every individual in our community plays. You may have had empathy for and been aware of the circumstances that can change people’s lives in an instant. Or feel for the people who have been overlooked, misunderstood and/or misrepresented and those whom experience limitations far beyond staying at home. But many more have not thought these things through enough, if at all, and all of us can always benefit from reinforcing presence, humanity and appreciation.
Stillness has given us the opportunity to dig deep. I hope the result is a pandemic of clarity. I hope we don’t just go “back to normal”, instead we mindfully consider what we want the new normal to look like for ourselves personally, for our community and for the planet. I hope we move forward not in our previously standard schedules, but develop exceptional, intentional and highly considerate livelihoods.
Priorities have shifted. Due dates and deadlines have less priority, as healthiness and happiness take precedence. Taking sick days finally have urgency and importance. Courtesy and better hygiene practices are more common. Unnecessary travel and meetings are reduced. Traffic congestion is not a thing! Bonds have strengthened. Friends and family are connecting more often, in more unique and authentic ways. Children are playing outside again. Their parents are playing with them again! Family roles and community roles are being challenged and evolving. Unhealthy relationships are becoming more apparent and ideally finally being addressed. Purpose is being reignited, reborn or redirected. Respect and value for the food we eat and the work it requires to nurture nature has increased. The planet, our home, is directly affected by us and it shows making it undeniable drastic changes are needed right now. We, as humans, are for the first time facing a common problem that no one can argue isn’t an important one to fight. People are finally put first before productivity and profit..
THIS is the kind of normal I’d like to see more of.
Let’s not “go back”.