I’m starting this week off with a really deep, perhaps unpleasant, big idea. And that is, that as much as we are eager for things to “get back” to normal, there is no going back. We are in a new era, and that requires a new way of life. Basically, our old reality has died, and our new normal is being born. I mean listen I know this is kind of a downer, but we need to be able to look a fact straight in the face. It’s Monday, a great day to face facts, am I right?
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I was just texting with a friend this morning and she said something really simple but also really profound–she said/ I”m so excited for my new life to begin I can almost taste it. I thought it was so wise because she didn’t say I’m so ready to get back to normal, or resume real life. She had acknowledged that what comes next is all new. (Merrill, shout out to you, honeybuns.)
And really, that’s we all need to do. Because corona is not magically going away any time soon. We’re going to re-open society and the economy, and then we’re likely going to have to clamp down again. Progress doesn’t happen in a linear fashion, it’s a curlicue. A doodle. It has an upward progression, yes, but there are times when it doubles back on itself and that is something we’re going to have to make peace with if we don’t want to go crazy because our expectations don’t get met. Schools could open, and then they could close again. Our ability to come and go and see who please is going to wax and wane.
‘The New Normal’
People have been saying, corona virus is this generation’s 9/11, and in many ways that’s not exactly true. That was a one-time event. It was contained. It had a long tail, to be sure, but the situation wasn’t changing every day for many months. But there is one similarity to now—after 9/11 some things changed immediately and irrevocably. The whole travel experience changed overnight. No more meeting friends or family at the gate. Or getting to the airport 20 minutes before your flight. Or giving an airplane ticket you couldn’t use to someone else (yes, we really used to be able to do that!)
Corona is like 9/11 in that there are certain ways we used to live that are gone. For example, concerts, parades may not be gone forever, but they will gone for a long time. Also, we are all going to need all kinds of masks. Masks for exercising. Masks for dressing up. And masks for when it really counts (like an N95 mask). Professional-looking masks for when we’re back at work.
Hand-washing isn’t going anywhere. Contact tracing—something I’ll talk more about later this week—is something new we’ll have to get used to.
Grief In Accepting Our New Normal
But more than all these logistical things, what’s gone for the foreseeable future is a sense of being out in public and not thinking about germs. Being unmindful of the connection we share to every other person around us, regardless of political persuasion or race or class or gender. We are all vulnerable to the same potential for infection. Some folks are more at risk, and I get that, but we’re all at risk of infecting others, even if we’re not worried for ourselves. We have to reckon with that responsibility now in a way we really haven’t before.
And of course, many of us are reckoning with economic realities that are altered in a big way. We know now from the great recession that those effects linger. And perhaps you’re dealing with personal loss of a loved one or friend. Maybe you were sick and reckoning with a new reality for yourself, too.
It’s a lot of big losses, right? It’s very appropriate to feel grief and finding ways to mourn. Of course, you are entitled to all your feelings and I’m not here to tell you how you SHOULD be feeling. But, grief is tricky, you may not recognize it for what it is. It may show up as numbness, or anger, or be interspersed with moments of huge joy. And knowing what you’re feeling helps you live into it, which helps you process. It’s like Ricky Ricardo said, Lucy, you got some processing to do. Or something like that. 🙂
Daily Tiny Assignment
Which leads me to today’s tiny assignment. Which is to take a moment to either write down or talk with someone else the things you miss from the time before corona. Or write and talk. Writing is more intimate, and you might be more revealing on the page than you would be with another person. Talking with someone else can help you go further, and we all have a desire to be heard.
Some of the things I miss are gathering with friends, waltzing in to the grocery store without waiting in line, smiling at other people on the street, going into my mom’s house, having alone time, going out on dates with my husband. On a bigger level I miss the feeling that I wasn’t taking my life or others’ lives into my own hands by being around other people. I feel I need to suit up now to leave the house and I’m sad about it, for now. Tell me what you miss by posting on Twitter or Facebook and tagging me, or on Instagram. Let’s pay our respects to what we’re being called on to let go of. Let’s honor what’s no longer here, and clear some space to allow in what’s here now.
Calm The Eff Down
I spent the previous three weeks of the podcast going over 21 simple ways you can Calm the Eff Down, so you can cope better, live better, and love more during a global pandemic. I put the best of those episodes into a mini ebook that you can download FOR FREE. Hopefully it’ll help you in the weeks and months to come. Go get it now!