Are you seeing a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel?
I think most of us are. We’re not out of it yet, and there will be setbacks. But I believe that soon, we can relegate Covid to the long list of diseases that preceded it. Still scary, but under control. Something to be aware of and know how to avoid and prevent. But not something to hide from.
And the one phrase I keep hearing from people is when can we get back to normal. How often have you heard that in the last year? How often have you said that in the past months? Back to Normal. I hope we can get back to normal.
Please don’t do that.
Because the normal we had before Covid wasn’t good enough.
We don’t need to get back to where we were; we need to get to where we are going. And I’m not talking about this ‘new normal’ I keep hearing about, whatever that is. Although, as I think about it, maybe that’s not such a wrong term after all. The new normal. But not the way people mean it now.
I’m talking about getting back to the things we loved and never, ever forgetting the hard-won lessons Covid-19 taught us. And making that the new normal. Getting back to, and never take for granted all the things we lost in 2020.
Sure, we’ve kept in touch, but it’s not the same. I’m talking in close and personal, hugs and handshakes friendship. I’m talking about sitting around a table, sharing food and laughter friendship. Did you ever think there would come a day when you were afraid to touch your oldest friend? You know the feeling when you run into someone you knew in high school? That long lost remembrance of things past. Now we can share that feeling with every friend we have.
Because over the years, we came to take our friends for granted. After all, they were always there. Sometimes too much. Maybe they came too often or stayed too late. Not anymore. Come as often as you want and stay the night if you feel like it.
It will be strange at first, this rekindling of friendships. Because it’s human nature to convince ourselves that we don’t need things we can’t have. But we do need them. We need each and every one.
Skype and Zoom are for business associates in another country, not your nephew who lives across town. Soon enough, family get-togethers will be back. So, please never take them for granted again. Never dread the next holiday because of all the hassle of getting everyone together. Look forward to every chance to meet with family again. Even that odd uncle no one likes.
Remember the last elder relative who passed away? For the last year or so before they died, there was this feeling of urgency. Let’s see them again because we don’t know when it will be the last time.
And suddenly, it was like that with your entire family. You had seen them for the last time. A year ago. Always remember that can happen again at any time. Embrace them. Seek them out. Spend every minute with them like it might be the last. We may have beaten this thing, but you never know what the next thing might be or when it will strike. If nothing else, learn that from Covid.
Going to a crowded restaurant. Crowded because the food was good and the service excellent. Sitting elbow to elbow with strangers, enjoying the ambiance, the food, and the company. For the last year, it’s been frozen pizza and gloppy takeout. If you went inside a restaurant, it was only because you knew no one would be there. When has that ever been a criterion for eating someplace? Hey, let’s try that place; nobody likes it.
It will be a bit odd at first. Being herded into a small room with dozens of strangers. But sit. Take in a deep breath of Covid-free air. Enjoy the smell of fresh food being prepared by someone other than yourself. Sip a drink and taste a freshly made salad while you wait for hot food being served to you. On plates with silverware. Not packed into styrofoam with plastic sporks. And tip. Large, generously, and often. These people have been stuck at home too. Without income.
Ahh, remember travel? The freedom to go anywhere and do anything. We sure took that one for granted. Never again. Never complain again about a line at the airport. Because for the last year, there haven’t been any lines at an airport. Or anywhere else except maybe a health clinic. Don’t drag your suitcase angrily through the crowds scowling at everyone. Walk through that airport with a smile and a sense of adventure like you did your very first time. We began treating airports as a nuisance and not an opportunity.
And once we reached our destinations, we did so without the sense of wonder we had as a child. Oh, look, Pompeii. What’s for lunch? We need to recapture that sense of wonder and never let it go again. See everything as if we are seeing it for the first time. And more importantly, as if we may never see it again. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been in the last few years where we skipped something because “we’ll see that next time.” And then the chance of a next time slipped from our grasp.
This past year has taught us many lessons. Acceptance. Patience. Fortitude. But I hope it has taught us many more lessons. Lessons we won’t soon forget. Like friendship, family, food, and travel. Like being with people we love and being with people, we have never met. Like the freedom to go wherever we want, be it Wall Street or Walmart. To be able to hop in our cars and go where the people are.
Never forget has been a mantra since 9/11. But I think to a degree, we did forget. So we needed to be reminded. So, please be careful this year, but as the world opens up again.