Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.
The new normal or the new strange? One of my old friends from the UK suggested to me that a “new strange” would be a more apt phraseology of the post-transition period. What will it look like when we get to the other side of this? That is the common speculative talk – you have been a part of those discussions as well. Our ideas are plentiful, our conjecture mixed with optimism and pessimism. Will we always be wearing masks? Will we be watching the competition of sports teams played before empty stadiums and arenas? Will the shaking of hands be a custom of the past? Will packed restaurants only be something we see in movies filmed pre 2020? Will planes fly with at one-third to one-half capacity – at double the cost or more of pre COVID-19 days? Will our taxes skyrocket to pay for the extraordinary borrowing by our government during these unprecedented times? And on and on …
Many, including myself, have observed a collective expression of societal gratitude, admiration and appreciation to not only the front-line healthcare professionals but also to those holding down duties of labour allowing the many to shop. They are clerks, truckers, delivery people, restaurants open for takeout, warehouse workers and all the other affiliated and supporting functions required for us to buy the needs of our daily living and if I may say so – our very survival. THEY are keeping our supply chain flowing while the “many” stay home either working from home (the truly fortunate) or the abruptly unemployed. And quietly, our clergy, while they are not guiding us in houses of worship as they once were, they are performing perhaps their most sacred of tasks – presiding over funerals and burials sometimes without family present.
The tone on social media conveys a pronounced softening, kindness and helpfulness in us, does it not? A categorization of life’s priorities is being reshaped as well. Never in most of our lifetimes have our needs and wants been more dissected and evaluated than they are today. We are rethinking who are heroes ought to be and more emphatically who they ought not to be. Our resiliency as human beings is shining as is our adaptability. To most of us, ZOOM connoted something entirely different a couple of months ago than it does today but we are embracing it.
Our appreciation for connectedness may have never been stronger than during this period of separation and isolation.
Wouldn’t it be euphoric if on the other side society changed for the better? That somehow, we carried these positive emotions and gratitude towards essential workers EVERY DAY, we forsake wants and worked only for our needs, we paid nurses what lawyers make, store clerks made a living wage and persons humanity to person became the norm across society. All would be beautiful. Home after home would be lined by white picket fences, there would be no crime and cancer was cured.
Just like President Trump’s gap regarding what happened in February, there is an abyss in this dialogue from what is happening today and what we will have suffered on our travels upon arriving at the other side …
Therefore, what we seem to be ignoring in most of these conversations is the pain and the loss we will endure. I think partly because “it” has not struck many within our immediate circle of reality – yet. We learn of this loss as the full array of numbers are reported daily. I read earlier that someone compared the reports of the “daily death toll” from COVID-19 to viewing the American evening news in the 1970s as the news anchors broadcasted the daily tally of US service personnel killed in Viet Nam. For the most part, faceless, soulless soldiers … just a number. Today, along with the COVID-19 death toll is the analysis of whether the curve is flattening or if there is a surge. We are talking about fucking people who by the way are dying alone!! Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends, dead! Will we end up as one of these faceless, soulless numbers?
I am not a black and white guy. It has not been an easy journey for me to arrive here, but I am now usually and firmly grey. That is why I chose the introductory quote to this piece by Lana Lang. Yes, I do have tremendous optimism that we will experience a re-awakening as I have confidence in the ultimate goodness of the human soul. I can envisage our collective growth emanating from this pandemic. But I do not expect it to be without earning our own trauma. I anticipate it will scar most of us. However, we will change.
Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both, on the other side …